[picture of me] Don Blaheta

Associate Professor of Computer Science

Longwood University

Pronouns: he / him
Office: 334 Rotunda Building
Email: blahetadp @ longwood.edu

Dept of Math and Computer Science
Longwood University
201 High St
Farmville, VA 23909

Chief Reader, AP Computer Science A
Email: don.blaheta.apcs @ gmail.com

Most Favored Links

CS/Math games

CS Education

Other stuff

Spring 2024 100% office hours: Mondays 3-4pm; Wednesdays 3-4pm; Fridays 11am-noon and 1-2pm

Approximate chances of finding me in my office other times:

Check syllabus or canvas for link to Zoom-based office hours if necessary


Spring 2023

Academic Interests

These days, my main interests are in the pedagogy of introductory computer science. Way back in summer of 2002, I helped out with the Providence instantiation of the TeachScheme! seminar (which has since evolved into Program by Design), an initiative to make computer science more widely acknowledged as an important part of a well-rounded education, even (and especially) at the high school level. Prior to that, I helped develop a new introductory CS class at Brown (CS 17/18, still being taught), predicated on the notion that a proper introduction to computer science is not simply a programming class, but a class in problem solving, design, and analysis as well. These are ideas I had already incorporated (with moderate success) into an introductory CS class taught in Java over at Knox; later I taught at Monmouth explicitly following the HtDP model, and later still I adapted them to the intro curriculum here at Longwood. I've also done investigation into how homework policies affect student learning, and I'm currently looking at the extent to which a "pre-CS1" better prepares incoming college CS majors for success.

Previously (and perhaps one day again) my main field of research was Natural Language Processing. Within that area, I've done work in fast parsing and function tagging; I've written several papers in these areas. In addition, I am generally interested in various forms of syntactic analysis, machine translation, and voice recognition. My PhD work was in function tagging: specifically, on trying different machine learning methods and a variety of different linguistic features to improve our performance on the task. My function tagger is available on my research page.

A secondary research field is in Natural Language Semantics. I completed a master's degree in this field, with a thesis on the problem of distributivity and plurality in natural language predicates.

While I don't do research in the field, I am also interested in developments in the field of programming languages—there are some interesting parallels between the semantics we devise for our programming languages and that already exist in our natural languages, and some fascinating work is being done in this area.