Building a SHIP - Outcomes

SHIP ended last week. So, how did we do? Time to look at outcomes.

Outcomes can be tricky. There are lots of programs out there and they all claim amazing results. Unfortunately, it seems to me, that everyone's so concerned with good PR that, well, you know, lies, damned lies, statistics.

First you've got claims like "learn how to make a mobile app in under n weeks." I always chuckle at this. If it was that easy, why do we have a tech talent shortage? I'm immediately skeptical of any program that claims that kids go from nothing to making full featured web apps or some amazing professional quality game in just a few weeks. Learning takes time. The only way you get these miracle results is by using frameworks, simplified tools, or scaffolding of some kind. True learning, retention, and the ability to transfer knowledge is minimal.

Then we have assorted stats. Here's one of my favorites.

Our students outperform other students who take APCS. We see this from screened programs. Now, I have no problem with screening – we do this at CSTUY, just don't imply that you're just taking everyone who applies. If you have an application or an interview, you're screening and starting ahead of the game. Since kids have to elect to come to our programs they certainly have a good deal of interest. So, what this claim is really saying is that a kid who likes CS enough to spend their summers and or after school time doing it is likely to do better than a kid who isn't going to spend this time doing CS. Big surprise.

So, how do we measure our outcomes.

We can start with the work the shipmates did. We use processing and the shipmates learned from the ground up. That is, they wrote everything from scratch. Some of the groups taught themselves how to use processing libraries if they needed facilities like a web API or accessing a camera, but since they built everything up from simple statements, if they successfully completed good projects, we could be pretty sure they've moved from neophytes to programmers.

The projects were terrific

PacInvaders by Sam, Margaret, and Ryan
IPhone simulator by Aminata, Sabrina, and Soraya

The screen shots are just two samples but all the shipmates put together great projects and since we used real tools, the shipmates are well prepared for their next courses be they with us, in school, or elsewhere.

The Stewards also completed projects. I talked a bit about them in my previous post.

We also looked at surveys. We did ask some of the soft questions that I alluded to above. Are you more likely to explore CS after SHIP? How has SHIP influenced your opinion of CS and Tech? The answer to the first was an overwhelming yes and the second was also overwhelmingly positive.

The money questions though, were did they want to come back for a Saturday program and one next summer. Other than the shipmates that lived too far away, again, the vast majority want to return.

Combine the programs they made and the fact that they want to come back with great unsolicited feedback from parents and the shipmates themselves and I think we can say that SHIP was a tremendous success.

Now we have to figure out how to raise the funds for the Saturday program and next summer.

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