UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY in ST. LOUIS

Engineering professor encourages programming for all

WashU professor Caitlin Kelleher and President Obama are on the same page: Computer programming is a skill every middle and high school student should learn.

Computer skills have been taught in schools since the 1980s, but programming is not generally integrated into the K-12 curriculum due to lack of funding, resources, or trained teachers.

Kelleher’s research focuses on how programming environments can support kids ages 10-17 to most effectively learn computer programming — not necessarily to pursue programming as a career, but to develop problem-solving skills, express creativity and understand its relevance to nearly everything. She created a graphics-based program called Looking Glass, which students can use as they learn to program on their own. Using Looking Glass, Kelleher and her team are studying how programming environments can support kids learning to program on their own through several avenues: playing and exploring, through puzzles to support different needs and styles of independent learners, and outreach and mentoring with professional programmers.

Read more about Kelleher’s research, Looking Glass, and Obama’s initiative here.