In this episode, we talk with Amy Ko, an Associate Professor at the University of Washington Information School. She directs the Code & Cognition Lab and studies human aspects of programming.
You can find this episode’s transcription down below!
You can also download the episode directly here.
Our conversation focused on how to teach students to debug, a skill many of us undoubtedly struggle to get our students to do effectively. Amy suggests: step 1 is to have students articulate what is happening versus what should happen (current output versus correct output). Step 2 is brainstorm different ways (hypotheses) that might be causing the discrepancy and exploring each idea to see if it is the cause. If a student runs out of ideas before they find the bug, go back to step 1 and confirm they understand what should and should not be happening.
When asked to share something awesome in computer science, Amy talked about her interest in computer science history and Donald Knuth. Knuth is one of the originators of many core algorithms in computer science. He also spent 10 years cataloging every mistake he made while working on the typesetting programming language LaTeX. So his interests were broad and he also wrote bugs!
In Amy’s Too Long; Didn’t Listen (TL;DL) she emphasized that debugging is a primary skill and is something we should teach. And we are starting to find ways to teach this skill.
*This interview has been edited to reflect Amy’s blog post announcement titled “I’m trans! Call me Amy.”