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What We've Swept Under the Rug: Radically Rethinking CS1
  • Lynn Andrea Stein, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
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Introductory computer science education is entrenched in an outdated computational model. Although it corresponds neither to our computing environments nor our work, we teach our students a single-thread-of-control static problem-solving view of the role of the computer program: computation as calculation. In this model, the job of a computer program is to start with a problem, calculate its answer, return that answer, and stop. This program-as-an-island bears little resemblance to most of today's software. We can dramatically improve this situation--and, as a corollary, all of undergraduate computer science--by teaching our students from the very beginning to conceptualize computation with a model of computer programs as simultaneous ongoing entities embedded in and interacting with a dynamic environment: computation as interaction; computation as it occurs in spreadsheets and video games, web applications and robots.

© 1999 Taylor & Francis. The article was published in Computer Science Education , vol. 8, iss. 2, p. 118-129 and may be found here.

Citation Information
Lynn Andrea Stein. "What We've Swept Under the Rug: Radically Rethinking CS1" (1999)
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