The harms of assuming cultural knowledge in coding assignments

  • If I reference a particular cultural object, I will not assume the learner has prior experience with the object and will provide background knowledge. For example, if an assignment asks learners to implement a game of Poker, I would need to fully explain the rules of Poker. A programming assignment already requires the cognitive load of the programming techniques; it shouldn’t also require the cognitive load of understanding someone else’s culture.
  • The assignments should reflect the varied cultures of the learners as much as possible. It follows from that goal that I need to learn about the cultures of the learners (as they may be increasingly different from me, as I get older) and that the assignments are subject to change over time (as cultures change).
  • If an assignment relies heavily on a particular cultural interest, such as card games or Disney movies, there should be an alternate assignment available as well. If one set of learners gets to program something that’s highly interesting to them, then the remaining learners should have that opportunity as well.




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Pamela Fox

Pamela Fox

I’m a human that likes to learn, create, teach, and repeat.

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