Demand for computer scientists is robust, but the pipeline for producing them is not. US universities are only meeting about a third of demand for computer scientists, and recruiting a diverse student body is a struggle; the number of women in computer science has actually declined in the past decade. To help change the perception of the computing field, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology developed EarSketch. EarSketch is an authentic STEAM (STEM + Arts) environment for teaching and learning programming (i.e. where learners are engaged in authentic practices both in computing and in the aesthetics of music remixing) aimed at increasing and broadening participation in computing. In the EarSketch environment, students write code to manipulate, or remix, musical samples. It is an integrated programming environment, digital audio workstation, curriculum, and audio loop library.
In this paper, we present a description of the EarSketch environment and curriculum. We also present an overview of the classroom environments in which EarSketch has been implemented to date, including professional development feedback, student artifacts, student engagement data, and student achievement. The authors believe that EarSketch has the potential to serve as an introductory programming unit for a variety of courses in both pre-college and college settings. Based on initial data, EarSketch is an effective method for teaching programming of musical content and is effective in improving motivation to succeed on computing problems.
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