The "CEL" Lab

How to find the CEL Lab

Location: PKI 367

Phone: +1 402-554-2701

I am a computer scientist because I love building technologies that help people learn. I direct the Computational Environments for Learning (CEL) laboratory at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Our work integrates the disciplines of human-computer interaction, computing education, and the learning sciences.

Along with my graduate and undergraduate research assistants, I investigate a wide range of issues centered on enabling people to harness the creative and computational power of today's devices. We focus largely on studying tools that promote knowledge of programming (broadly defined) and the specification/customization of processes. We are also concerned with how both students and everyday people come to understand the field of computing. Our other projects include the development of novel interactive learning environments enabled by web-based technologies.

Interested in Working in the Lab?

I'm always interested in working with more motivated students on research projects. Please first read through my advice for prospective students before setting up a meeting to chat more.

Ongoing Projects

Enhanced Anchored Collaboration over Mixed Media

TrACE Screenshot

Online media (e.g., video) is playing an increasingly important role in higher education. Unfortunately, current media hosting solutions lack tools to foster rich collaborative discourse and social learning. Student-to-student interactions that would be trivial in face-to-face settings are not easily reproduced online. In part this is due to the lack of spatial-temporal collaboration. Most systems organize comments and annotations contributed by student viewers chronologically based on submission time, resulting in a loss of referential cues between the specific content of the media and the participants' comments or queries. To address these limitations we embarking on a new project that explores the implementation of tools allowing spatial-temporal collaboration over a variety of web-hosted media used in post-secondary classes.

Recent related publications

S. Dazo, N. Stepanek, R. Fulkerson and B. Dorn. An Empirical Analysis of Video Viewing Behaviors in Flipped CS1 Courses. To appear in ACM Inroads, Dec. 2016.

(BEST PAPER) S. Dazo, N. Stepanek, R. Fulkerson and B. Dorn. An Empirical Analysis of Video Viewing Behaviors in Flipped CS1 Courses. In ITiCSE'16: Proceedings of the 21st ACM SIGCSE Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, pages 106-111, 2016. [PDF - via ACM DL]

L. B. Schroeder and B. Dorn. Enabling and Integrating Online Formative Assessment in a Flipped Calculus Course. To appear in Problems, Resources and Issues in Undergraduate Mathematics Studies (PRIMUS), 2015 -- [PDF pending]

L. B. Schroeder and B. Dorn. Enabling and Integrating Online Formative Assessment in a Flipped Calculus Course. Problems, Resources and Issues in Undergraduate Mathematics Studies (PRIMUS), 26(6):585-602, 2016 --

L. Schroeder and B. Dorn. Flipping Calculus with TrACE: A Web-Based Media Player for Collaboration in Calculus I. Poster to appear at PME-NA'2013: 35th Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education

Portions of this work funded by

Natioanl Science Foundation UHart

Computing Attitudes Survey

CAS Logo

In this collaborative, multi-institutional project (joint with Allison Elliott Tew), I am developing an empirically-validated assessment instrument targeting attitudes and misconceptions held by students in introductory computing classes. For more details about the CAS or to download a copy of the instrument see the dedicated CAS project page.

Recent related publications

B. Dorn and A. E. Tew. Empirical Validation and Application of the Computing Attitudes Survey. Computer Science Education, 25(1):1-36, 2015 --

A. E. Tew and B. Dorn The Case for Validated Tools in Computing Education Research. IEEE Computer (Special Issue on Computing Education), 46(9):60-66, 2013.

B. Dorn and A. E. Tew. Becoming Experts: Measuring Attitude Development in Introductory Computer Science. In SIGCSE '13: Proceedings of the 44th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, pages 183-188, 2013. [PDF - via ACM DL]

A. Elliott Tew, B. Dorn, and O. Schneider. Toward a Validated Computing Attitudes Survey. In ICER'12: Proceedings of the 8th International Computing Education Research Conference, pages 135-142, 2012. [PDF - via ACM DL]

Portions of this work funded by


Supporting Elementary Computational Thinking through Web Development

For many, web design and development provides an important formative experience in both code writing and computational thinking skills. The majority of these learners come from populations outside the typical range of computing literacy efforts (e.g., young children, adult informal learners). In this collaborative project with Andrea Forte of Drexel University and the Mozilla Foundation our mission is not only to develop educational software/materials and robust assessment instruments that can help nurture computational thinking, but also to help learners (and educators) recognize web building as a form of computational creativity that prepares learners to engage in further computer science courses and training.

Recent related publications

H. Muibi, B. Dorn, and T. Park. Teacher Perspectives on Web Design Instruction. In ITiCSE'15: Proceedings of the 20th ACM SIGCSE Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, pages 231-236, 2015. [PDF - via ACM DL]

T. Park, B. Dorn, and A. Forte. An Analysis of HTML and CSS Syntax Errors in a Web Development Course. ACM Transactions on Computing Education, 15(1), article 4, 2015 --

Portions of this work funded by

National Science Foundation

Informal Learning for End-User Programmers

ScriptABLE Logo

This project extends my dissertation work, and it explores the informal learning processes employed by web designers who have adopted scripting/programming in their everyday activities. The goal is to understand how to design and deploy resources that enable users to learn deeply about computing concepts as they go about their work. Given that the vast majority of script authors have little to no formal education in computing, this work has direct implications for increasing non-traditional programmers' knowledge about software development, enabling them to better communicate with one another, and reducing latent errors in the field.

We have published qualitative and quantitative work exploring the underlying motivations for why such users begin programming and the impact of deploying case-based learning aids into the information ecology of these users while engaged in problem-solving tasks.

Recently undergraduate students Chris Roggi (BA'12) and Adam Stankiewicz (BA~'15) have been working with me to analyze the (mostly unsuccessful) information foraging behaviors of non-traditional programmers as they search for information online.

Recent related publications

B. Dorn, A. Stankiewicz, and C. Roggi. Lost while Searching: Difficulties in Information Seeking among End-User Programmers. In ASIS&T'13: Proceedings of the 76th Association for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting, 2013. [PDF]

J. Kolodner, B. Dorn, J.O. Thomas, and M. Guzdial. (2012) Theory and Practice of Case-Based Learning Aids. In Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2nd edition). D. Jonassen and S. Land (editors).

B. Dorn. ScriptABLE: Supporting Informal Learning with Cases. In ICER'11: Proceedings of the 7th International Workshop on Computing Education Research, pages 69-76, 2011. [PDF - via ACM DL]

Portions of this work funded by

National Science Foundation


Jeroo Software Icon

Over the last ten years I have been involved in the development of Jeroo, an instructional tool for introducing object oriented programming. Jeroo is a multi-language coding environment that supports simultaneous code execution and run-time animation to help students learn the basics of OOP.

Jeroo was named the Premier Courseware of 2004 by the National Engineering Education Delivery System, and it continues to be used by students in many high schools and universities worldwide.

Current Students & Projects

  • Suzanne Dazo (UNO, PhD in IT, in progress) -- TBD
  • Nick Stepanek (UNO, MS in CS, in progress) -- TBD
  • Bobby Gibbs (UNO, BS CS, in progress) -- Backend software development

Active Collaborators

Former Students & Projects

  • Joel Elson (UNO, MS in MIS, 2016) -- Student behavior metrics and evaluation of teacher analytics
  • Adam Stankiewicz (UHartford, BA in MWDD, 2015) -- Student motivation in an anchored collaboration environment
  • Hauwa Muibi (UNO, MS in MIS, 2015) -- Understanding the context of web design in formal education settings
  • James Percival (UNO, BS IA/CS, in progress) -- Backend software development
  • Tyler Reynolds (UNL/PKI, BS Cmpr Eng, 2014) -- Backend software development
  • Ceceilia Hedrick (UNO, BS CS, in progress) -- Discourse analysis of anchored collaboration data
  • Ajay Medury (UNO, BS CS, 2014) -- Development of teacher analytics tools for collaborative learning
  • Matt St. Jarre (UHartford, BS in CS, 2014) -- Spatial-Temporal Anchored Collaboration over Mixed Media
  • Tim Reck (UHartford, BA in Univ Studies, 2012) -- Implementation of Faceted Search and Navigation in an e-commerce Web Application
  • Chris Roggi (UHartford, BA in MWDD, 2012) -- Understanding Search and Information Foraging Behaviors of Novice EUPers
  • Cameron Villers (UHartford, BS in CS, 2012) -- Studying Usability of a Web-Based News Management System