Punch Cards to Python

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There is an immense interest in teaching computer science concepts- and programming specifically - to everyone. The United States Military Academy at West Point has required every student, regardless of major, to pass a computer science zero (CS0) course for the last 50 years: From punch cards to Python. We present a history of our CS0 course and the lessons learned from the most recent redesign of the course. We review the last decade of student assessments and how they influenced the latest iteration. We contrast the expectations of students in a CS0 course with those in a CS1 course. We discuss the national efforts to make CS accessible to all and explore the challenges unique to a CS0 course. We demonstrate similarities between our course and the Advance Placement CS Principles and show where differences are justified. We review the relevant pedagogical research for CS0 and present lessons learned over multiple iterations of the course. Based on our current course review and implementation, we believe that Computer Science for everyone is attainable and relevant to the needs of every student.
Applied computing, Computer science education
Thomas Babbitt, Charles Schooler, and Kyle King. 2019. Punch Cards to Python: A Case Study of a CS0 Core Course. In Proceedings of the 50th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '19). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 811–817. https://doi.org/10.1145/3287324.3287491