AP CSA Cognitive Dissonance & Polymorphism

Earlier last week, the resounding comment from my students was their lack of personal space. So this AP CSA assignment was designed to get them outside, on their own, thinking about the exciting world of polymorphism.

Cognitive Dissonance is the emotional tension that results from having two conflicting thoughts or beliefs at once. The reality of remote instruction is a great example; I am both right there teaching them and they are all alone in their rooms. They have academic goals but no physical access to the school house. Experts tell us that we can use congitive dissonance to develop new ideas, new beliefs or deepen current understandings. So instead of pretending that everything is ok, I want my students to use this tension as part of their academic journey.

For the assignment – the students have to get out of their house and find an example of polymorphism on their streets, in their yards, down the block, and then outline the methods and fields. There is no programming for this assignment, just personal space and thinking. Selfishly, I have asked the students to turn in at least three pictures of their inspiration – and two of them have to be selfies. While in theory this ensures that they completed the assignment without a google search – it also lets me see their faces!

This assignment is not rigorous. This assignment is not part of my existing curriculum. This assignment may not make them better programmers or score higher on the AP CSA exam. But right now, they need personal space. Right now, they need to have an interesting day. Right now, they need to feel smart. So those are the standards I used to develop this assignment. Are they out there? Are they ok?

Here is a link to the actual assignment, you are welcome to critique, share, or use it with your own stir crazy progammers!

Published by MaryClair Wright

High School Computer Science Teacher in Alabama.

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