Eileen M. Peluso
Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences
Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA17701

Sabbatical 2010

The Impact of Alice on the Attitudes of Middle School Students Toward Computing

Enrollment in undergraduate computer science and engineering programs has suffered from two problems, dropping enrollments of female students since the mid Ď80s and dropping enrollments and retention overall since 2000.Research into the reasons behind the first problem has been sparse but increasing over the past decade.There has been much speculation as to the reasons for the second problem but little research.Rather, efforts have focused on ways to engage millennial students in the introductory undergraduate computer science courses to improve retention and in K-12 courses and outreach programs to raise interest in the discipline.Carnegie Mellonís Alice project has produced an interactive, animation-based programming environment that is aimed at addressing both problems and is sufficiently flexible for use from middle school to the first semester undergraduate level.The proposed sabbatical will entail the development and presentation of Alice-based curricular units.If arrangements can be made, I will present the units at regional middle and high schools.If not, I will make arrangements to work through after-school, outreach, and gifted programs.The former arrangement would have the added benefit of familiarizing area technology teachers with the Alice programming environment and its use.If it is not possible to present the units in area schools, I will invite technology teachers to observe the units being presented in the alternate venues.In either case, I will gather data on the impact that the use of Alice has on the attitudes of the students.

Download: Curriculum Unit Materials (Lesson plans, Handouts, Rubrics, and Worlds)
Full text of the sabbatical proposal
Pre-survey forms
Post-survey forms
Published results (announcement)

Please visit www.alice.org for information on the Alice software!