Equitable & Ethical Computing Education

A theory of instruction with four skills to teach (reading before writing, semantics/knowing before templates/doing).

Introductory computing courses are often exclusionary spaces where students with prepartory privillege (e.g. prior programming experience, supportive peers) can succeed and those who don’t feel they are “coders” face unnecessary challenges. I’ve developed a theory, strategies, and tools in support of the vision of making introductory computing courses equitable learning experiences. To do so, I have designed explicit instruction that teaches fundamental but often overlooked programming skills such as reading code and self-regulation skills. I have also explored ways to integrate ethics and

Project Publications

Ethics in CSEd

  • TOCE 2024: Conducted literature review on 40 years of computer science education research on integrating ethics into higher education computing courses.

Code Reading & Comprehension Skills

  • L@S 2020: Developed Codeitz, a tool that explored how novice programmers could exercise agency over their own learning experiences given differences in information that the interface shared.

  • CSE 2019: Proposed and evaluated a theory of instruction for teaching introductory programming skills, finding that explicitly defining and sequencing programming skills improved learning.

  • SIGCSE 2018: Developed and evaluated a lightweight scaffolding strategy to improve novive programmers’ code reading/tracing skills.

  • ICER 2017Proposed a “comprehension-first” pedagogical approach, finding that it improved learning when compared to a traditional code writing pedagogical approach.

Self-Regulation and Metacognitive Skills

  • ICER 2023: Developed Code Replayer, a tool to enable novice programmers to replay and reflect upon their code writing processes, finding benefits to self-regulation skills.

  • SIGCSE 2020: Conducted a journaling study to find that novice programmers struggled to learn to code while simultaneously monitor their cognitive processes.


  • Integrated with Code.org CS Principles (2019): In collaboration with GT Wrobel, Baker Franke, and Hannah Walden at Code.org, we integrated strategies and ideas from this paper into Code.org’s Computer Scince Principles 2020-‘21 curriculum to help improve the experiences of the 50,000 students a year who use it to learn computing!
  • Adoption at other universities: I have previously spoken with professors at the University of Illinois and University of California, Berkeley about integrating my theory of instruction into their introductory programming courses, supporting the learning of thousands of students a year.
Benjamin Xie
Postdoctoral Fellow

Embedded Ethics Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford Human-Centered AI Institute & Ethics Center. Assistant Professor, University of Denver CS.