SIGCSE’2021 Workshop

Adopting, Integrating, and Evaluating Computational Creativity Exercises and An Experience Report

Schedule Time/Date: 12:00-3:00 PM Central Standard Time USA, Saturday, March 13, 2021


Leen-Kiat Soh (Contact Person)

Department of Computer Science & Engineering

University of Nebraska

122E Avery Hall

Lincoln, NE 68588-0115 USA

Phone:  +402-472-6738




Markeya Peteranetz

College of Engineering

University of Nebraska




Olga Glebova

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Georgia State University




(Group members discussing the Marble Maze exercise. Goal: keep the marble moving
through the maze as long as possible.)



In this workshop, participants will learn about how to integrate computational thinking and creative thinking activities that have been shown to significantly improve student learning and performance in their classes via rigorous research investigations.  In particular, participants will be familiarized with the suite of Computational Creativity Exercises (CCEs) (which are non-programming-based, group-based, active learning exercises), practice hands-on how to complete such an CCE, learn about how to integrate and adapt them into their courses, and be exposed to the educational research studies behind the development, design, and administration of these CCEs. Participants will also learn how to conduct evidence-based educational research studies.  Workshop sessions will include presentations, panel-based Q&A, an experience report, breakout group discussions, and hands-on activities. Let’s compute, create, and collaborate!



 Workshop registration fees and adoption and implementation stipend of $500 will be covered by an NSF grant for the first 5 participants who submit their own one-page statement of purpose to the organizers and participate fully in the workshop.



For more information on the Computational Creativity Exercises and research, please see:


(Each group member designs and builds a separate section of the Marble Maze.)



Increasingly more SIGCSE attendees are teaching CS courses to non-majors with diverse backgrounds and motivations, and instructors are facing challenges that appear when teaching to both majors and non-majors at the same time.  The Computational Creativity Exercises and our approach to integrate computational thinking and creative thinking into classrooms have been shown to improve student learning and performance in class, helping students grasp the conceptual underpinnings and “big picture” of the technical contents they are required to master or learn.  Furthermore, the group-based, non-programming active learning activities also help encourage exchange of different ideas, put group members in more equal footings, and engage students in “thinking” about the process of coming up with a solution, which are aligned well with the “CS for All” theme of broadening participation in CS. Participants will also be given resources including the exercise suite, the research survey questionnaires and knowledge tests used, and lessons learned and logistical issues regarding the deployment of these exercises, and referred to original research papers.


Late secondary and post-secondary CS educators as well as post-secondary educators who are incorporating computational thinking into their courses, who wish to learn about integrating computational thinking and creative thinking, using the CCEs to improve student learning and performance, and conducting educational research studies on such practice. We anticipate this workshop to draw 15-25 people, perhaps more depending on when the workshop is scheduled.

(Connecting the separate sections of the Marble Maze requires debugging the maze.)



Leen-Kiat Soh is a Professor with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) whose research in Computer Science Education focuses on CS1/2, integrating creative thinking, computer-assisted instruction, intelligent education tools, instructional technology, and curriculum.  His SIGCSE’2017 paper (co-authored with Shell and Ingraham) was named one of the Exemplary Papers. 

Markeya Peteranetz is the Learning Assessment Coordinator for the College of Engineering at UNL. Her research interests include within-person variability in self-regulated learning and motivation and instructional interventions at the post-secondary level. She has been instrumental in the design and development of the CCEs, integrating them into courses, and gaining insights into instruction with these CCEs.

Soh and Peteranetz have direct experience with the research and material development as part of the NSF-funded projects that generated the computational creativity exercises, and published findings on the impacts of these exercises on student learning and performance at conferences such as SIGCSE, ICER, and FIE, and journals such as Communications of the ACM, IEEE Transactions on Education, and Contemporary Educational Psychology.   Soh has been actively involved in the development of the exercises and standalone courses on computational creativity.  Peteranetz has been heavily involved the research educational studies and is an expert in learner profiles.  Both presenters have worked together to create and validate knowledge tests used in the studies.

Olga Glebova is a Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science at Georgia State University. She teaches a variety of courses, including CS1 and Honors Seminar on Computational Thinking, in which she adopted CCEs after attending SIGCSE’2019 version of this workshop. She will present her experience report. As a teaching-track faculty, her interests include developing, testing and adopting high-quality materials. Her work was recognized by SIGCSE Special Project award and she was named University System of Georgia Chancellor’s Learning Scholar for 2019-2021


(Group members testing their Marble Maze and documenting results on YouTube.)




Key Points


Introduction: CCEs

What is computational thinking?  What is creativity thinking?  What are CCEs? What are the components of an exercise?  What are the different exercises?

·    Presentation-based

·    30 minutes

Trial-Runs:  Everyday Object Exercise


With participants broken into groups of four, each group is responsible for completing the Everyday Object exercise.  Compare and contrast the appropriateness of the descriptions submitted by each group.  Respond to both reflection and analyses questions for the exercise.

·    Hands-on, Group Assignments

·    Sharing insights and lessons learned

·    70 minutes

Research: Findings & Instruments


The educational research study and design behind the project.  What instruments that have been used (surveys, tests)?  What findings have been reported? How the project will support educational research, data collection, and co-authoring papers?

·    Presentation-based

·    20 minutes

Integration:  Classroom

How to integrate CCEs into a classroom?  How to grade them?  How to support students?  How to teach subject matter leveraging these CCEs?  How to connect lightbulbs of CCEs to subject matter?  What are the common issues and challenges?

·    Experience report 

·    Panel Q&A discussion

·    45 minutes

Ideation: Lightbulbs

How to adapt exercises through creating new lightbulbs for a class? 

·    Hands-on, Group Assignments

·    15 minutes


We will use Zoom as the delivery platform and conduct hands-on activities accordingly, using breakout rooms, chats, just-in-time polling, and show-of-hand. The Zoom-facilitated workshop will be run synchronously, and will also have additional 5-minute breaks between the different sessions.