In the About page for this blog, I wrote, “Computing Education Research is about how people come to understanding computing, and how we can facilitate that understanding.” Juha Sorva’s dissertation (now available!) helped me come to an understanding of what it means to “understand computing.” I describe a fairly technical (in terms of cognitive and learning sciences) definition, which basically is Juha’s. I end with some concrete pedagogical recommendations that are implied by this definition.
A Notional Machine: Benedict DuBoulay wrote in the 1980’s about a “notional machine,” that is, an abstraction of the computer that one can use for thinking about what a computer can and will do. Juha writes:
Du Boulay was probably the first to use the term notional machine for “the general properties of the machine that one is learning to control” as one learns programming. A notional machine is an…
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