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Improving computer science education
Kadijevich D., Angeli C., Schulte C., Routledge, New York, NY, 2013. 168 pp.  Type: Book (978-0-415645-37-9)
Date Reviewed: Sep 21 2016

[CR has previously published a review of this book (see Review CR144443). The author of the book has written a rebuttal to the review.]

AUTHOR’S REBUTTAL

I want to thank the reviewer for this appraisal, which I read with great interest. She rightly said that “we should be concerned with logical thinking and putting the resulting thoughts into practice.” She also rightly added, “word processing, spreadsheets, and databases are learning tools that serve multiple purposes across just about all content areas today. They should not be approached as a science.”

This book does not examine these tools as a science. What it does examine in a scientific way are problem solving, modeling, and data organization in spreadsheet environments (chapters 2 and 9), and data modeling using the relational model (chapter 3). There is no doubt that these are very important aspects of computational thinking, which, stated briefly, stands for a number of different thinking skills applied in problem solving, supported by digital technologies.

A proper computer science (CS) curriculum requires, among other issues, a balance between the practice of programming and the use of various kinds of software. If skillfully arranged, this practice along with the use of the software would foster different aspects of computational thinking. See, for example, Jonassen [1] for the potential of various computer programs to promote different thinking skills in general.

Although based upon historical materials, chapter 7 on different CS traditions, can, among other things, help each CS educator recognize and possibly improve his or her view of “what CS is all about,” which, to some extent, has influenced (and possibly limited) his or her teaching and its outcomes. Note that this chapter resulted in a recent book [2].

Contrary to a recent very affirmative review [3], this review appears to be basically negative. The reviewer says that “Part 2 has merit,” underlining that she “would not introduce Parts 1 or 3” to her teachers. (Note that Parts 1 and 3 comprise chapters 1 through 3 and 7 through 9, respectively). It can be concluded that contrary to Part 2, Parts 1 and 3, in her view, do not contain materials that may support professional development for CS teachers. Does this, for example, mean that chapter 8, which examines a German experience with CS educational standards and relates them to similar standards proposed by CSTA, would not be used in teacher professional development? (The reviewer referred to these CSTA standards to set up the context for her review at its beginning.) Note that each chapter in this book concludes with a section containing recommendations for teacher professional development.

Reviewer:  Djordje M. Kadijevich Review #: CR144780 (1612-0883)
1) Jonassen, D. Computers as mindtools for schools: engaging critical thinking (2nd ed). Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2000.
2) Tedre, M. The science of computing: shaping a discipline. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 2014.
3) Lineros, J. V. Review of Improving computer science education. In: Education Review (October 13, 2014), http://edrev.asu.edu/index.php/ER/article/view/2138 .
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