By  Emily Stacy
Portrait of Briana Morrison
The Association for Computing Machinery has named Briana Morrison, an associate professor of computer science, as a distinguished member. The designation is reserved for 10% of the association’s worldwide membership. (Photo by Tom Cogill)

The Association for Computing Machinery has named associate professor of computer science Briana Morrison as a distinguished member. Morrison was named earlier this year as one of 52 inductees in the class of 2023.

The distinction recognizes her commitment to teaching and inclusive approach, which involves a little bit of psychological strategy.

“My goal is to make learning programming more accessible to all,” Morrison said. 

In that regard, a major research interest of hers involves “if, when and how we can apply educational psychology principles to overcome obstacles to learning.”

Morrison, who earned her Ph.D. in human centered computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), believes it’s as simple as incorporating proven educational strategies.

Some examples of her research-proven approach: 

  • She breaks down complicated tasks into steps to keep students from getting overwhelmed.
  • She provides “worked examples,” which illustrate the entire process to complete a task.
  • And she gives lessons that include multiple “modalities,” such as visual, auditory or experiential approaches to learning. This caters to diverse learning styles, enhancing engagement. 

“Integrating these principles improves learning outcomes, providing clarity, structure and accessibility in programming education,” said Morrison, for whom broadening participation among underrepresented groups in the field is a major focus. 

In a news release announcing the new distinguished members, Morrison is cited for her “scholarship, leadership and service to computing education and its communities.” 

The professor said it’s gratifying to be recognized for her research and service to the educational community, but she didn’t do it on her own.

“I have many wonderful friends and colleagues to thank for their help and support,” she said. “I am pleased that the recognition came while at UVA, where such amazing computing research is being done. We have so many dedicated individuals who care about computing education.”

The designation of distinguished member is given to longstanding ACM members who are selected by their peers for work that has “advanced computing, fostered innovation across various fields and improved computer science education,” the press release said.

The release notes that the distinguished members grade recognizes up to 10% of the association’s worldwide membership.

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