Diana Franklin is a Research Associate Professor in Computer Computer Science and Director of Computer Science Education at UChicago STEM Education. She leads five projects involving computer science education involving students ranging from pre-K through university. She is the lead PI for quantum computing education for EPIQC, an NSF expedition in computing. Her research agenda explores ways to create curriculum and computing environments in ways that reach a broad audience. She is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award, NCWIT Faculty Undergraduate Mentoring Award, four teaching awards, three best paper awards (ICER '17, IPDPS '14, and Computing Frontiers '13), and an Honourable Mention from CHI '18.

Franklin received her Ph.D. from UC Davis in 2002. She was an assistant professor (2002-2007) and associate professor with tenure (2007) in Computer Science at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, during which she held the Forbes Chair. From 2008-2015, she was tenured teaching faculty at UC Santa Barbara. Her research interests include computing education research, architecture involving novel technologies, and ethnic and gender diversity in computing. She is the author of "A Practical Guide to Gender Diversity for CS Faculty," from Morgan Claypool.


I am interested in how students learn computer science concepts, especially at the elementary school level. In particular, I explore how to create curriculum and development environments that can reach a broad spectrum of learners, including underrepresented ethnic and gender minorities and students struggling academically. My research is housed in the CANON (Computing for ANyONe) Research Lab. I am leading five projects, spanning learners from pre-K through college.

active projects

  • Scratch Encore explores how to create intermediate Scratch curriculum when equity is a level-1 design constraint, equal to learning outcomes. Our curriculum is being released in waves as it is being piloted in 2018-19, with a broad roll-out in summer 2019.
  • EPIQC, an NSF Expeditions in Computing, bridges the gap between algorithms that assume perfect hardware and near-term small, noisy hardware by exposing specific details to algorithms developers, providing compiler optimizations, and developing architectural innovations. I lead the quantum computing education and outreach for this project. In particular, we are creating and curating resources to teach a broad audience about quantum computing principles. We currently have two efforts. First, tutorials for graduate students and professionals. Second, creating lessons with curated on-line resources and our newly-created zines that begin appropriate for a non-technical audience, gradually focusing to information necessary for a computer science undergraduate to be able to contribute to a research group. Future work will be integrated science / CT / quantum curriculum at middle school and high school levels, and undergraduate and graduate instructional materials.
  • Learning Trajectories for Everyday Computing is a multi-institution research effort exploring integration of computational thinking and mathematics in elementary school. After creating learning trajectories for Sequence, Repetition, Conditionals, and Decomposition, we are designing Action Fractions, a Fractions + CT curriculum for 3rd and 4th grades. This curriculum will be piloted in several classrooms in 2018-19, with a broader roll-out in 2019-20.
  • Comprehending Code focuses on learning strategies that students, especially students with disabilities, English language learners, and those struggling academically for any other reason. We have developed TIPP&SEE, a strategy for focusing student learning on Scratch projects. In addition, we have developed resources for Robot Turtles to make it more accessible to students in a classroom setting and to connect it more closely to Scratch programming. The first set of innovations were tested successfully last year. The Scratch modifications will be piloted this year.
  • CreaTive is a partnership between the University of Chicago Laboratory School and CANON Research Lab. We are working together to integrate CT into regular classroom instruction by identifying CT skills that can be developed in and applied to non-computing contexts. This effort focuses on pre-K through 2nd grade, with 3rd-5th grade then moving to a makerspace emphasis with the micro-bit.

artifacts produced

  • Scratch Act 1 - Introductory Scratch programming. Four modules consisting of 10 hours of instruction. Uses same pedagogical approach as Scratch Encore, with content from SFUSD's Green Workbook, itself a reorganization and revision of Harvard's Creative Computing Curriculum.
  • Scratch Encore - Intermediate Scratch programming. Modules 1-8 now released, new modules added weekly. Limited roll-out this year with full roll-out in Autumn 2019.
  • CT Reading List for preK-2nd grade.
  • Robot Turtles boards to make the Robot Turtles preK-1st grade board game more amenable to classroom use.
  • Action Fractions - Integrated fractions + CT activities for 3rd and 4th grade. Lessons being added every 2 weeks.

older projects

DEPICT Investigating how students learn elementary CT concepts through visual block-based languages (like Scratch) in upper-elementary school. This project resulted in 15 publications, a two-year curriculum, and a development environment that was more configurable than Scratch. The lessons learned in this program have now been applied to all of my current projects, and many of the projects live on in modified forms in the Scratch Encore curriculum.

Animal Tlatoque Investigating how to broaden participation in computing through a multi-disciplinary summer camp. Over three summers, ran camp for middle school students that combined meso-american culture, endangered species, art, storytelling, and computer science.