Toward Making Computer Science Education Accessible and Relevant to Everyone

Gerald Soosai Raj

Gerald Soosai Raj
Current Affiliation: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Friday, January 11, 2019 @ 11:00am-12:30pm
Room 1242, CSE Building
Talk Title: Toward Making Computer Science Education Accessible and Relevant to Everyone
(CSE Colloquium Lecture Series)



Computer Science (CS) is one of the majors that has seen a tremendous growth in enrollment during the last decade. Due to the increased popularity of Computer Science, the number of students enrolling in programming courses has sharply increased. This increase in the number of students also increases the diversity of students learning programming. This creates challenges for programming teachers since some pedagogical approaches for teaching programming to a certain group of students would not be applicable to a different group. Hence, we need to find some better and customized ways to teach programming to these students with varying backgrounds.

The goal of my research is to make Computer Science Education accessible to diverse groups of people. I try to do this by identifying and removing barriers to learning, exploring innovative methods for teaching, and customizing CS education based on the knowledge and background of learners.

My current research spans across three broad themes. They are (1) understanding the barriers faced by non-native English speakers who learn programming, designing and evaluating instructional strategies involving bilingual education to reduce the cognitive load faced by these students, (2) understanding the role of live-coding in teaching introductory programming, and (3) customizing the topics and their ordering in a modern C++ course that is intended to teach programming to people who already know a different programming language.

My future research focuses on developing frameworks for helping students to read and understand large code bases, designing and evaluating the effectiveness of outreach activities in increasing the diversity in Computer Science, and using machine learning to personalize education based on the level and learning styles of diverse students.


Adalbert Gerald Soosai Raj is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Sciences and Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a Master's degree in Computer Sciences from UW-Madison and a Bachelor's degree in Information Technology from College of Engineering Guindy (CEG) in Chennai, India. Gerald's research primarily focuses on teaching Computer Science (CS) to students whose native language is not English. He uses bilingual teaching techniques like code-switching and translanguaging for teaching CS using English and the students' native language. He received the Scott Kloeck-Jenson (SKJ) fellowship to teach computer programming to students in Tamil Nadu (a southern state in India) using both English and Tamil (native language of people in Tamil Nadu). Apart from being a graduate student, Gerald also teaches Computer Science courses as a graduate student instructor at UW-Madison. He received the Best Graduate Student Instructor Award for his excellence in teaching from the UW-Madison CS department during Spring 2018. Gerald enjoys playing cricket, tennis, basketball, badminton, etc. He has done adventurous activities like Skydiving, Bungee jumping, Scuba diving, etc.