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University of Michigan School of Information

A headshot of Barbara Ericson

Barbara Ericson

Assistant Professor of Information, School of Information and Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, College of Engineering Email: Phone: 734/763-2285
Office: School of Information/105 S. State Faculty Role: Faculty Potential PhD Faculty Advisor: Yes


I completed my PhD at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia with Dr. James Foley as my advisor. I earned my BS in CS at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and my MS in CS at the University of Michigan. I have worked in a variety of research labs including: General Motors Research Labs, Bell Communications Research, and the Institute of Paper Science Research. I authored several books on media computation, which is an approach to teach programming by having students write programs that manipulate media. I have worked in a variety of areas including user experience, artificial intelligence, 3d graphics, medical applications, databases, and computing education. I hold two patents in database modifications for case-base reasoning. 

Areas of interest

My research interests include computing education, learning analytics, artificial intelligence, and user experience.  I create and test interactive electronic books for introductory computing courses. Interactive ebooks have a great potential for improving learning through active learning, immediate feedback, and spaced practice.  Log file data can be analyzed to provide teachers and students with actionable information. My ebooks use principles from educational psychology to improve learning. In particular, I reduce the frustration that many learners feel, by using a worked example plus low cognitive load practice approach. In this approach, students study expert solutions to programming problems and then solve similar practice problems. I focus on Parsons problems in which the correct code for a problem is given, but the code is broken into blocks and mixed up. The learner must select blocks and place them in the correct order. I invented adaptive Parsons problems to better scaffold learning. I am currently studying and refining adaptive Parsons problems. Future plans include creating and supporting a community of learners and authors in online learning environments. I am also passionate about increasing diversity in computing. I created Rise UP 4 CS to help underrepresented high school students succeed in their Advanced Placement Computer Science courses. This project provides additional help sessions to high school students in AP CS courses and uses undergraduate students as near-peer role models and mentors. It uses one of the interactive ebooks I created.

Honors and awards

Foley Scholar - Highest award to a PhD student at the Georgia Institute of Technology - 2016
A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award - 2012
ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award - 2010 


PhD - Human Centered Computing (HCC) - Georgia Institute of Technology

MS in CS - University of Michigan

BS in CS - Wayne State University


"National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Barbara Ericson, Assistant professor." Headshot of Barbara Ericson.
Barbara Ericson receives prestigious NSF CAREER award

Assistant professor Barb Ericson continues her cutting edge research into making computer science education accessible for all students. She was awarded a prestigious CAREER award from NSF to further her research.

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Photo of Barbara Ericson pausing for a moment to smile at the camera while hiking at Presque Isle River waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She wears a backpack and a UMSI baseball cap. Waterfalls are visible in the background. “2022 SIGCSE Award. Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science. Barbara Ericson. Assistant Professor.” UMSI logo.
Barbara Ericson receives SIGCSE award for outstanding contribution to computer science education

Assistant professor Barbara Ericson was honored with the 2022 Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education from SIGCSE for her work in improving computer science education and bolstering diversity in the field. 


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