New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Learning how to Deal with Mindsets behind Algorithms

Edwin Koster, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Rob Boschhuizen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy (The Netherlands)


Mindsets play a (hidden) role in algorithm design. Mindsets make algorithms a human affair: algorithms are shaped through often implicit and hidden underlying mindsets of designers and users, and these mindsets result in algorithms that are highly influenced by a specific (human) perspective. As algorithms are becoming increasingly relevant to society, science and technology, and even canonized in for example “dataism”, it is imperative that explicit attention should be paid to these underlying mindsets in general and in university education in particular. In our presentation we present a model (DOLM) to design courses and programs to critically reflect on underlying mindsets of algorithms. We aim at supporting university lectures and program directors to develop educational activities in which this type of reflection takes central stage - in their own teachings, curricula and research. We thus expect to contribute to the development of the awareness of students regarding the existence of underlying mindsets and to their growing ability to critically reflect on these mindsets. We also aim at enlarging their capacity to defend their choices concerning algorithms in a responsible way and, as a more general goal, to help them to deal with complex and controversial problems in their role as students and as future scientists and academic professionals.

Keywords: Academic education, algorithms, underlying mindsets, critical reflection

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