Griffin Dietz, Stanford University: “Cognitively Appropriate and Readily Accessible Computing Education Technologies for Young Learners”

Position: PhD Candidate

Current Institution: Stanford University

Abstract: Cognitively Appropriate and Readily Accessible Computing Education Technologies for Young Learners

In recent years we have seen a growing push for computing education for all children yet computational thinking programming and AI education reaches only a fraction of young learners in part because relevant educational tools often require expensive hardware or do not align with the cognitive skills and abilities (e.g. literacy) of young users. I believe that we can address these gaps in access by taking an interdisciplinary approach to the design and development of computing education tools. Specifically by first understanding the needs abilities and developmental capacities of our users and then by designing to directly address those findings we can build software systems to support accessible computing education. In my research I aim to 1) study the ways that children intuitively think about everyday technology and their abilities to reason in a computational way 2) understand the non-pedagogical needs of learners aiming to engage with this material and 3) apply this knowledge to the design and development of accessible approachable and engaging systems for computing education across two domains: computational thinking and artificial intelligence.


Griffin Dietz is a PhD Candidate in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her work focuses on both understanding how children think about and conceive of technology and on developing such technology to support early childhood computing education. Prior to her PhD Griffin graduated from Stanford in 2017 with a BS in Computer Science with honors and distinction.