Archive for April 1st, 2012


“Computer Science for the Rest of Us”

April 1st, 2012

An article in today’s New York Times that’s making the rounds — written by Randall Stross, an author and professor of business at San Jose State University:

Colleges are taking widely different paths to teaching general concepts underlying computer programming language. Tom Cortina offers a course in "Principles of Computation" at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh [image courtesy Jeff Swensen for The New York Times].READING, writing and — refactoring code?


Many professors of computer science say college graduates in every major should understand software fundamentals. They don’t argue that everyone needs to be a skilled programmer. Rather, they seek to teach “computational thinking” — the general concepts programming languages employ.


In 2006, Jeannette M. Wing, head of the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote a manifesto arguing that basic literacy should be redefined to include understanding of computer processes. “Computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists,” she wrote. “To reading, writing and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability.”


There is little agreement within the field, however, about what exactly are the core elements of computational thinking. Nor is there agreement about how much programming students must do, if any, in order to understand it.


Most important, the need for teaching computational thinking to all students remains vague [more after the jump].


» Read more: “Computer Science for the Rest of Us”