I will start this syllabus by saying what this course is not. It does not cover everything that is and ever was computing education research (CER). That is too big. It is not The Best way to do research for Everyone. This course is a special topics course of my (Prof. Stephens-Martinez’s) first attempt at introducing CER to undergraduate students that already know the basics of computing and data analysis. It will focus on some breadth to give the students in this course an idea of what is in CER. It will also include some depth into what I know and through my lens of expertise within CER.

The depth part of the course will be me teaching by modeling what depth does and does not look like. I chose this teaching process because through having one existential proof by example; I hope to show what deeply knowing a topic can look like. However, this does include caveats because the expertise that I show is, as I said, an existential proof. It does not mean that every representation of expertise will look the same. Moreover, the topics I find interesting may not be of great interest to everyone in the class. Nor will how I see and view these topics be the same for another expert. So it is an example as best as I can make that is backed by my expertise.

Covid Precautions

Per the Duke Guidelines and Requirements, you must wear a mask if you are in person in class and in office hours.

If you have to quarantine or isolate due to Covid-19:

  • Fill out the short-term illness form.
  • If you are up for it, we’ll turn on Zoom to accommodate you.
  • Remember you are allowed to miss some days without penalty.

Course Components

Discussion Lead

In groups of 2-3, you will lead a class period to discuss the readings. You will create a brief 5-10 minute presentation (broken up into smaller parts as needed) about the assigned reading, as well as prepare questions for the class as a whole to discuss.

See details for this assignment on this post.

Discussion Attendance and Attentiveness

This is a seminar course that will rely heavily on discussing the reading materials to help with learning the material. Attendance is required. You are allowed to miss 4 days. If you need to miss more days, notify the instructor of the course.

In addition to attending, attentiveness is also important. Engaging in the class activities by talking with peers, asking questions, and sharing with the class. Attentiveness also means putting away anything that may be distracting.


The Question, Quote, or Comment (QQC) document will be your personal bibliography of all the things we read. It will be graded periodically throughout the semester to confirm your engagement with the material.


Instead of a final exam, this course has an open-ended collaborative project. In groups of two or three, you will choose a CER data analysis project. You may choose from the data offered by the course or bring your own data set. With the guidance of the instructor, you will formulate a research question and perform your own data cleaning, analysis, and modeling to answer the research question. The project will have four deliverables.

  1. Proposal. 2-3 page (single space) document that discusses the research question, some related work, and a collaboration plan.
  2. Prototype. 3-4 page (single space) document that summarizes related work, analysis methods, preliminary results, and an updated collaboration plan.
  3. Final Report. 6-8 page (single space) document that provides a complete description of the research questions, motivation, related work, methods, results, and conclusions.
  4. Final Presentation. 15-20 minute presentation involving all group members.

More details will be provided about each deliverable closer to their due dates, including a simple criterion-based rubric for grading. Project Deliverables will be graded for satisfying the necessary criteria, i.e., satisfying the basic requirements will result in full credit. This is intended to encourage creativity to allow project groups to explore widely in terms of topics, research questions, and methods without fear of a grade penalty. We will also provide constructive written feedback on project deliverables separate from the criterion grading in order to help teams make progress.


Most assignments will be graded at a 4-level scale.

  • E (Exemplary) – Work that meets all requirements and displays full mastery of all learning goals and material.
  • S (Satisfactory) – Work that meets all requirements and displays at least partial mastery of all learning goals as well as full mastery of core learning goals.
  • N (Not yet) – Work that does not meet some requirements and/or displays developing or incomplete mastery of at least some learning goals and material.
  • U (Unassessable) – Work that is missing, does not demonstrate meaningful effort, or does not provide enough evidence to determine a level of mastery.

To achieve an A, all of your work must be at the Satisfactory level or above. If a level below is received, you and the instructor of the course will discuss what a resubmission looks like. To achieve an A+, a substantial amount of your work must be at the Exemplary level.


The final course grade, as a percentage, will be calculated as the following weighted average:

  • Leading Discussion 10%
  • Attendance 10%
  • Assignments 25%
  • QQC Doc 10%
  • Project 50%, broken up as follows:
    • Proposal 10%
    • Prototype 11%
    • Presentation 12%
    • Report 12%

Course Policies


You are strongly encouraged to collaborate with each other. We learn better together than apart. The group projects will be completed in groups, and while some group members may focus on different aspects of the project, all group members should be actively engaged in the overall project, each doing a fair share of work, and regularly communicating with group members.

Academic Integrity

All participants in this course are expected to uphold the Duke Community Standard; that is, to agree that “…I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors; I will conduct myself honorably in all my endeavors; and I will act if the Standard is compromised.”  In all cases, failure to uphold this standard will result in referral to Office of Student Conduct.  Any work that copies, paraphrases, or in any other way uses materials not your own without citation will be considered in violation.

Disability Accommodation

Duke University is committed to providing equal access to students with documented disabilities. Students with disabilities may contact the Student Disability Access Office (SDAO) to ensure your access to this course and to the program. There you can engage in a confidential conversation about the process for requesting reasonable accommodations both in the classroom and in clinical settings. Students are encouraged to register with the SDAO as soon as they begin the program. Please note that accommodations are not provided retroactively. More information can be found online at or by contacting SDAO at 919-668-1267,

Long Term Health Issues

If you have or develop a chronic health issue that will interfere with your participation in this course, please contact your academic dean to seek accommodations as directed by Trinity College.

Personal Distress or Emergencies

If a situation of extreme personal distress or an emergency interferes with your participation in this course, please contact your academic dean to seek accommodations as directed by Trinity College.