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Task-Driven Programming Pedagogy in the Digital Humanities

  • David J. BirnbaumEmail author
  • Alison Langmead
Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter, we advocate for a task-driven approach to teaching computer programming to students of the digital humanities (DH). Our perspective is grounded first in Birnbaum’s (2014) plenary address to the University of Pittsburgh Faculty Senate (Birnbaum 2014), in which he argued that coding, like writing, should be taught across the liberal arts curriculum in domain-appropriate ways. This position argued that (1) coding is not an esoteric specialization to be taught solely by computer scientists, and that (2) coding might be taught most effectively in the context of different disciplines. Here, we present a method for embedding Digital Humanities education, and more specifically programming pedagogy, within the long-standing traditions of the Humanities and argue that this approach works most effectively when new learners have access to context-specific mentorship. Our second point of reference lies with oral-proficiency-oriented (OP) foreign language pedagogy. Within an OP model, the ability to communicate in a foreign language is a skill, and the primary goal for learners who seek to acquire that skill is not an academic understanding of the grammar of a language, but, instead, the ability to function successfully within realistic contextualized human interactions. Seen from this perspective, computer-programming curricula organized around the features of the programming language might be compared to older grammar-and-translation foreign-language pedagogies. What we advocate instead is that the ability to use a programming language (programming proficiency) is best acquired in the context of performing contextualized, discipline-conscious tasks that are meaningful to humanists, an approach that has parallels to OP language learning.

Keywords

Digital humanities Computational humanities Programming pedagogy Humanities pedagogy Interdisciplinary Computing education 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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