Polytechnic professor’s book helps STEM instructors bridge computing gap between college, workforce

Alejandra Magana. (Purdue University photo/John O'Malley)

Alejandra Magana, the W.C. Furnas Professor in Enterprise Excellence in the Department of Computer and Information Technology, has recently finished a new book to help undergraduate instructors prepare students with computing skills for the workforce. The book, “Teaching and Learning in STEM with Computation, Modeling, and Simulation Practices,” will be published in February 2024.

“Almost every graduate transitioning into the workforce may need to have some form of computing-related working skills,” Magana said. “It is important for students within and outside of STEM to get opportunities to acquire such skills more often, but more importantly, to use them with greater success. The book provides specific guidance on how to support students in such learning endeavors.”

An example of Magana's earlier work, which has been adapted for easy classroom instructional use in her new book. (Photo provided)

Magana intended the book to be easy to digest and applicable for busy instructors by ensuring it was a short guide that included examples, lesson plans, and assessment rubrics. It was also iteratively revised through classroom-based research in collaboration with instructors and graduate students. She thanked her collaborators who contributed and wrote examples for the final version.

Initial versions have already been used inside and outside the university to design faculty development programs and support engineering education and workforce development. The published version of the book will help STEM educators and researchers well beyond the Purdue ecosystem, including any faculty teaching computational modeling and simulation courses, researchers, and graduate students pursuing programs in the area of computational thinking.

“This book is the consolidation of 15 years of research, starting with my doctoral work and later supported by a CAREER project from the National Science Foundation and other related awards. Although multiple articles were published on the topic over the years, I wanted to bring all the findings together and transform them into practical advice.”

Magana’s new book is also aligned with the Purdue University President Mung Chiang's Purdue Computes initiative by meeting its education and workforce development goals, such as facilitating the teaching and learning of:

  • programming practices,
  • data science concepts,
  • artificial intelligence practices,
  • computational modeling, and
  • simulation practices.

The digital version of the book is open access and will be free to download through Purdue University Press starting February 15, 2024, while the paperback version of the book will be available for $29.99.


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