Publication 4551

Beynon M. (2009) Constructivist computer science education reconstructed. Innovations in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences 8(2): 73–90. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4551
The merits of Empirical Modelling (EM) principles and tools as a constructivist approach to computer science education are illustrated with reference to ways in which they have been used in teaching topics related to the standard computer science curriculum. The products of EM are interactive models – construals – that serve a sense-making role. Model-building proceeds in an incremental fashion through the construction of networks of definitions that reflect the observables, dependencies and agents associated with a current situation. The three principal case studies discussed (teaching bubblesort, solving Sudoku puzzles, and recognising groups from their abstract multiplication tables) highlight respects in which EM accounts for aspects of computing that cannot be effectively addressed by thinking primarily in terms of abstractions, procedures and mechanisms. The discussion of EM as a constructivist approach to computer science education is set in the context of an analysis of constructivism in computer science published by Ben-Ari in 2001. Reconciling EM’s constructivist epistemology with this analysis involves recognising its pretensions to a broader view of computer science.

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