Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Envisioning the Future of Undergraduates STEM Education: Research and Practice Symposium (AAAS EnFuse), April 27-29, 2016, Washington, DC


Final Published Version

Publication Date



We present the design and development of a new approach to teaching the introductory computing course (CS1), at both the college-level as well as K9-12, using the context of digital art and creative computation. Creative computation is a highly interdisciplinary area combining theory and methodology from computer science and engineering with aesthetic principles and creative practices from the arts. Using the Processing programming language, students create a portfolio of aesthetic visual designs that employ basic programming constructs and structures typically taught in traditional CS1 courses. The goal of this approach is to bring the excitement, creativity, and innovation fostered by the context of creative coding. We have developed a web portal containing an extensive set of resources for adoption by others. A comprehensive textbook has also been published in 2013 [Greenberg et al 2013].

We present results from a comparative study involving multiple offerings of the new course at the two lead institutions as well as several other partner institutions. We also describe the success of bringing creative computation via Processing into two very different high schools that span the range of possibilities of grades 9-12 in American education. We report on how contextualized computing that supports integration of media arts, design, and computer science can successfully motivate students to learn foundations of programming and come back for more. The work of two high school teachers with divergent pedagogical styles is presented. They successfully adapted a college-level creative computation curriculum to their individual school cultures providing a catalyst for significant increases in enrollment and female participation in high school computer science.