A Commitment to Learning

At 9 Dots, we are committed to using research to improve the classroom experience for teachers and students.  We collaborate with top universities, school districts, and research institutions to be on the forefront of computer science education research.


Current Projects

We have two active National Science Foundation sponsored projects entitled Debugging Failure and Programming as a Context for Making Problem Solving Visible. In collaboration with UCLA and UC Berkeley we are exploring how students approach and bounce back from coding set-backs and engage in coding problem solving.


Our Impact

A critical goal of our research initiatives is to impact the teaching practices we use at 9 Dots and on the teaching community at large.  Our research findings play an integral role in how we teach and run our programs.  In addition, we produce research papers and white papers to bring our findings to teaching institutions across the world. 



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Narrative and the CS Classroom

Exploring the effect of narrative on student outcomes in CS

Narrative and the CS Classroom

We found that building narrative structures and narrative-based problems do offer a consistent wrapper for contextualizing computer science concepts. Though this report will not offer a perfect solution to the issue of scaling a curriculum in the deep blue sea of computer science education, it will offer us insights into smaller aspects of our mission, which in turn may help us reach our larger theory of change.

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CS Belonging

Recommendations for designing more inclusive CS classrooms

CS Belonging

It wasn’t always this way. Computing had once been considered “women’s work,” and software engineering, now a lucrative, prestigious, and male-dominated field, was an area led by women. And yet here we are in 2018, over three decades since the last time the rate of women majoring in computer science was rising and not declining, with women leaving the field on average at 10 years.

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The interactional work of learning to debug.

Enskilment In The Digital Age

We present a detailed account of the interactional work between a programming instructor and a middle school student that leads to the resolution of an elusive error in the student’s code. By tracing the fine details of how this resolution came to be, we demonstrate how learning to debug in face-to-face interactions resembles a process of enskilment.


Code TO Life

The instructional work of animating computer programs with the body

Bringing Static Code To Life

In this preliminary report, we propose a previously unidentified role that instructors’ gestures may play in helping students evaluate existing computer code. We find that instructors use gesture to animate processes encoded in the static inscriptions of computer programs in order to make invisible, dynamic phenomena perceptible to students. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the embodied instructional work of teaching programming.

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Code Stories

Using art to tell stories about failure when learning to code.

Code Stories

A frequent, integral, and challenging part of writing computer code is debugging, the process of finding and resolving programming errors. Learning to code and debug can be emotionally complex, and attending to this overlooked experience is of interest to researchers and educators. We propose that art making has transformative potential for how students tell stories about the emotional experience of coding, especially when they experience failure.

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Conjecture Analysis

Understanding instructors’ reflections on conjecture maps and their impact on design-based research.

Conjecture Analysis

This paper lays out a framework for researchers to incorporate instructor feedback into iterative design-based research (DBR). Using Sandoval’s (2013) method of conjecture mapping to create curriculum to teach students debugging practices, we set out to learn how instructors thought about a design within their own classroom. Analysis of instructors’ reflections on conjecture maps required the development of an analytical tool that tracks causal connections, mediating outcomes, and re-designs.