Making music wins over computer science majors

You could say Samuel Murphy is one measure of computer science professor Jennifer Burg’s success.

Burg set out to determine whether using a hands-on topic like music could help her teach complicated computer science topics such as algorithms, abstraction and programming languages.

Murphy, a sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas, took her CSC101 class – and decided to major in computer science.

“It was my first experience with computer science and I was enthralled by it,” he said. “I would not consider myself a science person, but what interested me most was the problem-solving aspect of it. Every program can be seen as a puzzle, and some bits of code may frustrate you until you think steam is coming out of your ears. I enjoy the challenge.”

That was the ultimate goal of Burg’s research. The results of the study she did with partners Jason Romney of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and sound designer and audio engineer Eric Schwartz, “Computer Science ‘Big Ideas’ Play Well in Digital Sound and Music,” will be published during the upcoming Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education conference, March 6-9 in Denver. The study was funded through two National Science Foundation grants totaling $690,638.  More…