Prof. Mark Guzdial is the 2019 recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Award for Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education. The award recognizes his work in “helping to create the field of computing education research, designing and evaluating innovative curricula and pedagogical methods, mentoring the field, and promoting literacy for all.”
Guzdial is a Professor in both CSE and Engineering Education Research (EER) at Michigan, with a courtesy appointment in the School of Information, working to determine how different students think about computing and how to improve and expand teaching methods in the field. He is a leading expert in the field of computing education, and was one of its earliest researchers.
In particular, Guzdial is focused on how computing can be made more accessible to students no matter which discipline they study. He and his students explore how people come to understand computing and how educators can make that process more effective.
Guzdial’s efforts in computing education research span the challenges facing the young field. In his previous position as a professor at Georgia Tech, he developed innovative solutions to problems of computing education for non-majors that have since been implemented around the world. In 2002, he built a course around a computing educational framework he invented himself, called media computation, which replaces standard programming challenges with manipulation of sound and images.
The goal of the media computation curriculum, as well as Guzdial’s programming course that first implemented it, is to make programming fundamentals approachable to students who were more accustomed to using computers for expression and creativity. The course greatly helped non-majors at Georgia Tech both pass their programming course and more easily learn coding fundamentals, and it saw similar success at other schools in the years following.
Guzdial’s current projects include studying how high schools reach the decision to offer courses in computing, how programming can be used as a tool to teach other skills and subjects, and to what degree spatial reasoning corresponds to a person’s grasp of computing.
Guzdial has been recognized as an ACM Fellow and ACM Distinguished Lecturer, and received the IEEE Computer Science & Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2012. Guzdial co-founded the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance, which worked to increase the number of computing and computing-intensive degree graduates, and the diversity of those graduates, via systemic change to educational pathways.
Guzdial received the award at the fiftieth annual SIGCSE Technical Symposium, where he delivered the keynote address on Computing Education as a Foundation for 21st Century Literacy.
“This award is so important to me. It comes from the SIGCSE Community, which I’ve been part of since 1995,” he wrote in a blog post about the award. Guzdial’s PhD advisor at U-M, Prof. Elliot Soloway, was the 2002 recipient of the award, making them the only advisor-advisee pair to receive the honor in its history.