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Book Chapter

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his chapter discusses potential and current overlaps between the learning sciences and computing education research in their origins, theory, and methodology. After an introduction to learning sciences, the chapter describes how both learning sciences and computing education research developed as distinct fields from cognitive science. Despite common roots and common goals, the authors argue that the two fields are less integrated than they should be and recommend theories and methodologies from the learning sciences that could be used more widely in computing education research. The chapter selects for discussion one general learning theory from each of cognition (constructivism), instructional design (cognitive apprenticeship), social and environmental features of learning environments (sociocultural theory), and motivation (expectancy-value theory). Then the chapter describes methodology for design-based research to apply and test learning theories in authentic learning environments. The chapter emphasizes the alignment between design-based research and current research practices in computing education. Finally, the chapter discusses the four stages of learning sciences projects. Examples from computing education research are given for each stage to illustrate the shared goals and methods of the two fields and to argue for more integration between them.


This document is a pre-publication draft of:

Margulieux, L. E., Dorn, B., & Searle, K. A. (2019). Learning sciences for computing education. In S. A. Fincher & A. V. Robins (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, [208-230].

The published version has been further edited, please obtain and cite the published version from:

This draft has been made available (in an institutional archive or document repository) with permission, under the Cambridge University Press Green Open Access policy:

Available for download on Tuesday, October 15, 2019