Why Do the U­.K. and Sweden Take Computing Education Research More Seriously Than the ­U.S.?

Mark Guzdial
Georgia Institute of Technology professor Mark Guzdial

I gave a keynote talk at the 11th Annual Higher Education Academy in Information and Computer Science at Durham University in the U.K. last month.  The Academy is focused on bringing teaching practitioners together to share best practices and develop community.  They had about 80 attendees which covered most of the 120 institutions of Information and Computer Science in the United Kingdom.

While I was there, I learned about the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Computer Science, a collaborative effort between four U.K. institutions: Durham University, University of Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan University, and Newcastle University. They're working on integrating active learning into computing and developing new kinds of educational technology to improve computing learning.

When I got back, I learned about a new effort in engineering education research at Chalmers University in Sweden.  Chalmers trains 40% of all of Sweden's engineers, in a country known for their engineering. So this is an important and well-respected engineering school saying that engineering education research is important.  What's more, the new graduate program is housed in the "Department of Applied Information Technology," suggesting a strong computing component.

As a computing education research, I'm thrilled to see these serious efforts to advance this field with Centers.  And I'm wondering when the U.S. is going to join this list.  Is improving how we teach and learn about computing more important in Sweden and the U.K. than in the U.S.?  There are some strong engineering education research programs in the U.S., and some strong computing education research efforts.  I don't see any Centers in this area yet, but I'd be glad to be shown to be wrong.


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