How teachers have used Alice
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Gives you ideas on how to teach Alice (grade, concepts ...)

Long description
Testimonials from Teachers Using Alice

Jeffrey Stone

Computer Science
Penn State Schuylkill, Schuylkill Haven, PA

"I thought you might like to know about some of the new uses we are finding for Alice here at Penn State-Schuylkill.

First, we found a way this semester to integrate Alice into our CS1-style, Java-based course. We are now teaching Alice for four weeks at the beginning of the semester to ease our students into programming. So far, this has been successful in promoting student enthusiasm and overall grades in comparison to prior semesters - although there was a bit of a letdown for students as we moved from Alice to Java.

Second, I currently have an undergraduate student creating Alice worlds designed to illustrate basic programming concepts (loops, conditions, arrays, etc) using a common thematic storyline. These worlds are used in the Java portion of our CS1-style course as a learning aid. We hope to present a poster on this work at SIGCSE in the spring.

Third, we are using Alice to introduce programming concepts to our introductory IS students (through a single 3-week project).

Finally, like a lot of schools recently we have been experiencing declining enrollment in the sciences. To help plant some seeds for the future, our campus has been offering 'Discovery Days' ( free of charge to middle- and high-school students. These 3-hour events take place on Saturday mornings and have been very successful. As part of this, My colleague and I offered an activity called 'Animated Computer Graphics for boys/girls' where we introduced Alice and let the students go wild. Needless to say, the students took to it with a lot of enthusiasm. The boys event attracted about 25 students while the girls event attracted 8 students. all of them left excited about continuing the use of the tool. As you might expect, the worlds created by the boys and the girls differed in terms of their general subject matter! We also have had requests to do this camp more frequently in the Spring."

Mary-Angela Papalaskari

Computer Science
Villanova University, Villanova, PA

"Thank you very much for visiting the Science & Theatre Magic Program this summer and for making a presentation at our Alice workshop. Our students were really inspired by you! I am sure you will be excited to learn that many of them continued working on the movie that they began making with you. I am quite impressed with the result. During the magic school performances, they presented their movie to over 200 attendees. Some of them state that, as a result of coming to our program, they are interested in becoming Computer Scientists. The CS major in charge of the Alice sessions has also benefited (directly and indirectly) from observing and assisting your presentation. You helped us build a stronger mentoring base for our program.

Overall, I strongly believe that using Alice in the computing sessions has really strengthened our program. For this, I want to thank you for all your past work promoting Alice as an educational tool and for creating materials that are suitable for pre-college workshops."

Reyna Pratt

Computer Science Teacher
The Madeira School, McLean, VA

"I love Alice!! I teach it for one semester, I have 7 girls who adore using it. For example - today: I'm talking about iterating thru a list, and show them the Whack-a-mole game (like the one from an arcade game). I start to talk about it, and what's involved, and what we need to think about. As a group, they start to shout out: 'But what does the code look like? Show us the code!'

This is a true story!"
(Quoted from the APCS listserv, April 2, 2007)

Peter McAsh

Computer Science Teacher
St. Marys DCVI, Ontario, Canada

"I teach computer studies (programming and applications) at a secondary school in St. Marys, Ontario, Canada. I am an Alice advocate! I've made presenations (about Alice) at 2 province-wide conferences. Ethusiasm for Alice in Ontario is growing. I'm scheduled to make another presentation at a large provincial conference in the spring (currently one session but likely a session on both days of the conference).

I have only had the opportunity to use Alice once for a Grade 10 Introduction to Computer Science class and had tremendous results. The best results in my 25+ years of teaching. The enrollment for the course for this year (second semester) increased by over 50%. The retention of students from Grade 10 (Alice) to Grade 11 (Java) was the best it has been in years. I suspect the Grade 11 students (who had Alice in Grade 10) will do much better with Java than the previous students (without Alice) as the Alice-background students understand OOP concepts and will be able to [better] tackle Java."

Chris Haynes

Associate Professor, Computer Science
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

"I'm in my second semester using Alice for the first four weeks, followed by Python, in an introduction to programming course not intended for prospective CS majors. Aside from the lack of a suitable Python text, this combination is working well. Students do two one-week Alice assignments, beginning at the end of the first week (a warm-up and an animated greeting card), followed by a two week interactive-game team project. Some team accomplishments are amazing.

Informal student surveys both semesters indicated a clear majority enjoyed their time with Alice, but after a month most thought it time to move on to a more general purpose language. Of course there are several published articles with more formal results indicating the popularity and utility of Alice as a first language. (Personally I think Alice is the greatest single advance in CS pedagogy to date, and that seems plausible from the published studies.)

A CS0 course that did not focus primarily on programming (being a survey of CS concepts, or a 'computer fluency' booster), could well use Alice for perhaps half a semester as the only programming language. And a CS1 course with strong students could meaningfully use Alice for as little as three weeks."
(Quoted from the SIGCSE listserv, October 16, 2006)

Chuck Bunting

Computer Science/Math teacher
Battle Mountain High School, Minturn, CO

"I, also, decided to use Alice during the first three to five weeks of my Intro course. We just finished week three and I am in chapter 4 of the text.

I am also using Alice and the book from the site (Cooper, Dann, Pausch). The resources from the web site have been extremely helpful. I am using almost all of them. My class is 20 students; 3 women, a number of ESL students and a few geeks. They are ALL enjoying Alice and created their first world on the second day of class. Their worlds all reflect their personalities and interests and have helped me understand each student's motivation. I am also relating Alice to Java in my discussions and I believe the kids are understanding how the two languages relate. They are comfortable with the idea of classes, objects, methods, parameters, and data types already. I will know in three weeks when I switch to Java how smooth the transition will be. I will be using David J. Barnes & Michael Kolling, Objects First with Java, A Practical Introduction using BlueJ, 3rd ed, and the BlueJ IDE when I start Java. This is my second year teaching these courses. We have trimesters so I teach Intro to Java during the first trimester and Java AP(A only) second and third trimesters. I think the start up this year was much smoother and more interesting to the students because of Alice. I also do most of my teaching using a tablet PC. As a result, I have the ability to show Alice to my math and business classes as a marketing and recruiting tool for next year. I also showed Alice during parents open house and have already recruited some students for next year."
(Quoted from the AP CS listserv, September 15, 2006)
Sharon Dearman

Computing Science Teacher
Bishop Moore High School, Orlando, FL

"I am using Alice and the book from the site (Cooper, Dann, Pausch). It is going great! I especially like the lab sheets that they have on the site. My enrollment more than doubled in my Intro to Programming because I did a little preview of Alice to the Alg II Honors students at the end of last year. I plan on spending another 3 weeks on it (we started on 8/7) and then moving to Java.

I thought about trying to integrate Java in between each Alice concept -- but I just didn't have time. With every new lesson that I introduce I talk a little bit about how it is done in Java - but they haven't written any Java yet. (I see a big glaze come over everyone's eyes whenever I mention Java at this point). However, some of the kids were saying today "I can't wait to start on Java". I am a little nervous that when we switch over to Java that the transition will be difficult - but I'll deal with it! This first quarter has been worth it.

Because of all the discussion about recursion lately, it got me thinking about having my AP students go through the chapter on Recursion in Alice. Maybe if they can actually see recursion happening, it will click. They have seen some students working with Alice and have been curious because they didn't get to use it last year.

I also attended the workshop at Duke this summer. If you get to one of those seminars, next summer, it is worth it!"
(Quoted from the AP CS listserv, September 12, 2006)
Sue Mitchell

Computing Instructor, Business and CIS Division
Calhoun Community College, Decatur, AL

"This textbook (Learning to Program With Alice) is great. My drop rate has decreased significantly and the students are really enjoying learning computer logic with Alice.

We've make a great decision with this text. Thanks again."
Gerry Donaldson

Computer Science Teacher
Sir Winston Churchill High School, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

"The numbers in my grade 10 programming classes literally doubled for this year after I introduced Alice last year.

I used Alice last year in my grade 10 classes. I have taught high school computer science since 1979 and IB and AP computer science since Pascal ruled the day. I tell you honestly that Alice is the most popular material that I have ever used in teaching programming. The kids love it, and the girls like it every bit as much as the guys. It is definitely OOP first, and the migration to Java is straight forward as Alice is a Java system written in and running in Java. If there is any way that you can give your students the gift of Alice in their beginning course, please do it for them. You will never make a wiser decision.

As it happened, last year I had a second course class in my second semester last year with a mixture of students, some of whom had taken my introductory Kjell (non-OOP) Java programming course and some of whom had taken the Alice course. Incredibly, the Alice kids outperformed the non-OOP Java kids when we went to Java and Eclipse. I will happily stake my reputation on the statement that I know of no better current environment to start students programming with than with Alice. The three dimensional scenarios and characters (objects) in Alice are really a lot of fun and the programming concepts move faster than they do with Java...

In summary, do Alice for your Introductory course. You simply can't go wrong with it."
Vinod Lohani

Associate Professor, Department of Engineering Education
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

"We are one of the largest engineering programs in the country and adopted Alice programming in our first semester introductory engineering course 'Engineering Exploration' starting fall 2004 and are continuing to use it to teach introductory concepts in object oriented programming. About 1400 engineering freshmen take our 'Engineering Exploration' course every year. I'm one of the co-coordinators of this introductory course. I think the approach Alice programming environment presents is conducive to teaching object oriented programming (OOP) concepts, particularly to the beginning programmers. Our data shows that ~80% of our engineering freshmen are visual learners and the Alice environment has a lot to offer to these students... I sincerely feel that Alice offers a great teaching tool and OOP environment. Based on preliminary analysis of data we have been collecting on our Alice application, we have found that students of either gender and various races reported statistically significant gains in learning OOP concepts as a result of a pre- and post test. The Computers in Education journal of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) will shortly publish our paper documenting our early experiences with Alice programming in our introductory engineering course."

Norma Hall

Director, Computer Science Education
Manor College, Jenkintown, PA

"At Manor College, in Jenkintown, PA, we have had a decreasing number of Computer Science incoming freshmen. In Fall 2004 we began offering a 1 credit course in "Introduction to Computer Animation" using the Alice software (and currently Steve Cooper, Wanda Dunn, Randy Pausch's text). The primary purpose of the course was the low number of students who were able to successfully complete Programming I and make it to the Programming II course. It is too soon to determine the effectiveness of this course with our programming courses, but we are noticing an increasing number of students who are changing their major to Computer Science. The correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but there have been non-CS students who have taken the Alice course and then chosen to 'join the fold'."

Mary Robinson

Connetquot High School, Bohemia, New York

"I really just closed my eyes and jumped into teaching the students Alice, reading frantically the night before each class. I was surprised that there was relatively little frustration, and the students learned much more quickly than I did. They added their own touches to the assignments from chapters 1 to 4. Thank you for the newsletter! I am experimenting with Alice in a computer applications class, and I am enjoying what the kids are doing, and trying to learn along with them."

Jody Culkin

Borough of Manhattan Community College
City University of New York

"While evidence is anecdotal, we believe that learning to program with Alice has helped our students develop a keener understanding of programming concepts, as well as increased confidence in their ability to master the material. We are still in the process of refining how best to incorporate Alice into our curriculum, since this is our first semester, but we are excited about our early results."

Mikel Berger

DelMar Information Technologies
West Lafayette, IN.

“I don’t use Alice in a classroom setting but I thought you might be interested in how we’re using Alice in 4-H. I’m one of the leaders for the computer project in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The last two years we’ve introduced the kids to Alice who are interested in learning about programming. Since most of them are interested in making games or animated movies, they quickly pick up Alice. We only have 3 workshops before the projects are judged at the fair. Alice has been good because we can do a short introduction at the workshops and the kids pick up most of it on their own. They may not be applying the best software development practices, but we’re just getting started. Most of the kids are 3rd – 7th grade."

Mel Hoffert

Sycamore High School
Cincinnati, OH

”Alice has been a big hit for us. We have 200 students enrolled in our Computer Animation course for this coming year. This gives us a large group to feed into our higher level courses. Thanks."

Dottie Adams

Aiken Preparatory School
Aiken, SC

”The textbook has been a great resource. Overall, I really feel that the graphical component of studying computer science this way is both interesting for the students and enlightening in understanding what are sometimes very abstract concepts."

Marie Hartlein

Montgomery County Community College
Blue Bell, PA

” I discuss Alice for approximately 1-2 weeks prior to introducing objects in Java. This has helped students understand concepts such as objects, methods and functions as well as structured programming techniques (loops, conditions, sequential processing). Students find Alice to be fun and engaging. Students are required to create their own World in Alice and share their project with the class."

Don Kirkwood

North Salem High School
Salem, OR

” Working great - far few young women have dropped out of 3 courses implemented this quarter."

Sharon Dearman

Bishop Moore Catholic High School
Orlando, FL

” Because I did a demo of what I would be teaching in Java featuring Alice to the Alg II Honors students, my enrollment has doubled for next year. I have 45 students signed up."

Barbara Mullen

Computer Technology Instructor
Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort, SC

”Thank you. This is a wonderful basic teaching tool to introduce programming and 3D to our students."

Seth Reichelson

AP Physics, AP CS, Engineering Teacher
Ocoee High School, Ocoee, FL

” I did all ten chapters of alice with my students and was blown away. It was the best teaching tool I've been involved with."

Mary Alice Gehrdes

Severn School
Arnold, MD

” Using Alice made the segue into programming in Java absolutely painless."

Peter Choy

Course Mgr., Game & Entertainment Technology
Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore

” Alice was used to help students understand basic object-oriented concepts before learning Java… We are conducting a nation wide competition (to all schools) based on Alice."

Martha McMahon

Marquette High School
Rockwood, MO

” I do a month long unit with Alice where we create worlds, make variables, use if statements and loops before we start using TextPad to write Java programs. I love Alice and the kids do too - I have found it to be a highly educational and motivating tool for teaching computer science."

Tammi Scheiring

Tuscaloosa Academy
Tuscaloosa, AL

” I used Alice as a way of introducing my students to computer programming. (I hope to get enough students interested in programming that I can then teach a programming course.) The graphics seem to hold their attention better than a straight C++ or other interface and Alice actually seems to finally be something that appeals to girls in a computer class!"

Jeremy Woodward

Zama American High School
Dept of Defense / Camp Zama, Japan

”The bottom line is that I believe in Alice and would like to do anything I can to help. I hope you to get more funding/grants to hire more developers to work on the application. Carnegie Mellon seems to lead the way in all things related to Computer Science at the high school level.

I teach in the Department of Defense Schools, and I will spread the word about Alice. I'll post a review of the Alice textbook on the AP listserve (it will be positive) so that more instructors will know about it.

I also use JKarel/Karel The Robot, and the objectdraw.jar library (Eventfull Java) to teach all levels of computer science, so you see I'm a very visual oriented instructor.

It's still tough to encourge high school students to take computer science and Alice definitely motivates students to learn more about programming. I've bought a class set of your textbooks."

Rating (1 to 100) 75 = very good; 50 = good; 1 = unknown

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