CMU 15-539: Computer Science Pedagogy, Fall 2017

A broad introduction to Computer Science Pedagogy at the grade 9-12 and first-year college levels. Students will implement, test, deploy, and manage free, online, interactive, autograded CS curricular content. As the semester progresses, students may also design some original content as well. Students will also work with regional high school CS teachers and students, providing both online and in-person support and training, and direct instruction. Special permission only. Pre-requisites: 15-112 or 15-122. Meets: Tue+Thu, 6:30pm-7:50pm, Wean 5409. 12 units.

The primary objective of this course is:
* To design, implement, test, and deploy portions of a novel, fun, engaging, world-class, free (or nearly free), online, autograded high school computer science curriculum with its associated professional development for teachers, all as part of the CMU Computer Science Academy.

This entails a number of additional course objectives as follows:
* Study relevant Computer Science Pedagogy principles and existing curriculum.
* Teach practical skills necessary to interact with high school students and teachers, to tutor and support them.
* Introduce students to a fairly complete product cycle, including needs assessment, literature review and competitive analysis, storyboarding, iterative design and development, testing and evaluation, piloting, production, and support.
* Enhance students' basic software development, teamwork, writing, and presentation skills, particularly as part of an interdisciplinary team.

Topic List and Schedule:
See the topic list and schedule here (includes schedule, notes, and homeworks).

We will use Piazza and Autolab.

Office Hours:
  Instructor Office Hours: David Kosbie (koz): GHC 5001, Tue/Thu 5:30pm-6:25pm
  Head TA Office Hours: Eddie Dryer (edryer) and Tara Stentz (tstentz): by appointment

  Eddie Dryer (edryer) (Head TA)
  Tara Stentz (tstentz) (Head TA)
  Lizzy Board (ejboard)
  Matt Kasper (mkasper)
  Scott Krulcik (skrulcik)
  Kenny Ramos (kdramos)
  Richard Zhao (richardz)

No required textbook. We will use Python3 and Brython and other freely-available materials.

Students in this course will work in teams, will learn experientially, and will serve supporting roles for regional teachers and students. For these reasons, the course strictly requires regular attendance, consistent participation, and sustained effort. Failure to meet these basic criteria may result in a lowered semester grade (even a failing grade) regardless of any numeric average.

Grades will depend on performance on homework, field work (such as supporting regional teachers and students), class attendance and participation, collaboration, content production, general effort, and any other required course activities. In particular, you are required to attend classes unless otherwise informed by your instructor. We will be taking attendance, and your attendance and participation will impact your final grade. Also, as this is the first time we are offering this course, we will determine the weights of this course components as appropriate later in the semester, keeping as much within departmental norms as we can.

Exams and Quizzes:
We will not have midterm or final exams in this course. We may have an occasional quiz (if so, they will be clearly advertised).

Late Policy:
Students should take deadlines seriously, and no late work will be accepted, except in the case of medical or family emergencies or other university-approved absences. In particular, there are no Late Days or Grace Days in this course. Also, note that late work of an individual affects the performance of the whole team, so it is particularly important to complete your work on time in this course.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:
If you have a disability and have an accommodations letter from the Disability Resources office, I encourage you to discuss your accommodations and needs with me as early in the semester as possible. I will work with you to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of Disability Resources, I encourage you to contact them at

Students should arrive on time, ready to participate, to contribute, and to learn. Students may not use any electronic devices in lecture (no cell phones, laptops, iPads, iPods, iWhatevers, etc) without explicit permission in writing from the instructor. Students are expected to take notes, but to do so manually (pen and paper). Also, students may not record lectures without explicit permission in writing from the instructor. Violations will result in failing the course. Exceptions will be granted in accordance with university guidelines for accessibility concerns, but even then such recordings may not be shared publicly or privately and must be deleted at the end of the semester.

In general, we encourage and even require collaboration in this course. In fact, a key learning objective in this course is effective team work. In all assignments, all contributions from people outside the team should be clearly acknowledged. With that said, we take cheating very seriously, and any violation of the university's policies on plagiarism and academic integrity may result in a lowered semester grade (including failing the course) as well as additional consequences.

Acknowledgements and References:
Always make sure you acknowledge others who help you in any written or oral assignment. All contributions to any assignment from external sources should be clearly cited in the written document or presentation. This is especially critical in this course, where we plan to publish the content we (faculty and students) all create in the course, so we must be certain we know the IP and licensing of any materials that may have been used in the production of our content.

IP Policy:
In keeping with the mission of this course, all intellectual property (IP) created by faculty or students as part of this course will be licensed with an appropriate license. Given the special nature of this curricular content and associated professional development content, much of it cannot be publicly shared with high school students, as that would undermine the content's value. As such, we cannot reasonably open-source this content. Instead, faculty and students will retain ownership of their original materials, and will provide a license to CMU so that CMU can then provide that content as appropriate to high school teachers and students. More details will be provided to all students taking the course, and we are happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about this policy.

In addition, since much student work in this course will be expanding on the large amount of previous work authored by CMU faculty, we will liberally provide for this as follows:

Professors David Kosbie and Mark Stehlik give CMU students in this class (15-539-f17) our permission to use any or all of our personally owned educational materials located at in the creation of your work under this course. We are retaining any ownership rights we have in those materials, but any new materials you create under this course will be owned by you. This non-exclusive permission allows you to use our personally owned materials for purposes of creating and turning in work under this course. In addition, if you create any materials under this course that embed or otherwise include any of our pre-existing materials, we are granting our non-exclusive permission for you to use our materials (as they appear in your materials) as a part of your graduate school admission applications, employment applications, or other non-commercial research purposes as long as such use does not involve any public dissemination of any of our materials.

If you have any questions about how you can use our personally owned work, or if you want permission to use our personally owned work in some other manner, please contact David Kosbie at

As part of this course, 15-539 students may work with teachers and students, supporting and tutoring them, and studying other 15-539 students doing the same. This may involve other CMU students from other CMU courses, as well as high school teachers and students. In all cases, 15-539 students are expected to maintain the highest levels of professionalism when working with others. Also, any course-related activities involving other CMU students must occur in public spaces. As for course-related activities involving high school teachers or students, 15-539 students must (1) obtain all state-mandated clearances before working with any high school students or teachers; (2) inform the 15-539 faculty of each such event beforehand; and (3) be certain that a teacher or other administrator at the high school is aware of and approves the interaction. We will assist with each of these steps.

Statement of Support for Students' Health and Well-being:
Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is almost always helpful.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

Some important numbers:
    CaPS: 412-268-2922
    Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226
    If the situation is life threatening, call the police
    On campus: CMU Police: 412-268-2323
    Off campus: 911

If you have questions or concerns about this or any other aspect of the course, please let me know.