Movie poster for Pride and Prejudice

Insight Education:‘Pride and Prejudice’ among Leaving Cert novels coding-ready with

Submitted on Monday, 27/11/2023

New Insight SFI Centre UCD resource to ‘help equip students to adapt to rapidly changing technologies’

Researchers from the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics and the Centre for Cultural Analytics at UCD have launched a new resource for second level schools,, that brings together skills from the Computer Science and English curricula.

Secondary students and their teachers will be now able to explore Leaving Cert novels using computational techniques. The resource will allow students taking Leaving Certificate Computer Science to apply Python programming techniques to analyse Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The project website contains complete digitised versions of the three novels and classroom worksheets to guide students to use Python to analyse, quantify, and visualise these and other texts.

Professor Gerardine Meaney, Insight Principal Investigator and Director of the UCD Centre for Cultural Analytics, describes the project as ‘a unique digital literacy resource built out of the collaboration between Computer Science and English Literature. It draws on advanced research projects to support the second level curriculum. It will help equip students to adapt to rapidly changing technologies and think critically about their uses.’

Dr. Maria Mulvany of the UCD Centre for Cultural Analytics and Dr. Derek Greene of the Insight SFI Centre developed this resource with the assistance of Computer Science teacher Áine Rourke and PhD candidate Eoghan Cunningham. Dr Mulvany explains how the new resource can support both the Computer Science and English curricula for the Leaving Cert: ‘Using Python, students will be able to combine the skills they learn on the Computer Science curriculum with the skills of reading and comprehension they have developed as part of their English Curriculum to enrich their understanding of the fictional worlds of these classic novels. They can then apply these programming skills to the study of any text that is no longer in copyright.’

This resource is being piloted as part of the senior cycle Computer Science curriculum in Clogher Road Community College. ‘ offers students the chance to link humanities and Computer Science and learn how to explore literary texts using Python,’ Dr Mulvany says. ‘It’s also an introduction to advanced academic research. The resource will allow students to learn how to work with the full text of the novels, together with annotated dictionaries of the characters appearing in these texts. The novels provide rich and familiar datasets for the students to develop and apply their Computer Science skills in practice, and also allows them to interpret the text in different ways.’

The website contains instructional video materials and all of the resources needed to run this module successfully in the computer science classroom.

The project is funded as part of the Insight SFI Research Centre’s Platform Research Initiative in Cultural Analytics.