Matthias Felleisen, a trustee pro­fessor in the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, has been named the recip­ient of the Asso­ci­a­tion for Com­puting Machinery’s (ACM) Karl V. Karl­strom Out­standing Edu­cator Award for 2009.

The award rec­og­nizes edu­ca­tors who have advanced new method­olo­gies in teaching, brought about new cur­riculum devel­op­ment in com­puter sci­ence and engi­neering, or oth­er­wise con­tributed to ACM’s edu­ca­tional mis­sion. Felleisen was rec­og­nized in par­tic­ular for “his visionary and long-​​standing con­tri­bu­tions to K-​​12 out­reach pro­grams,” par­tic­u­larly the inno­v­a­tive Teach­Scheme! project that he founded in 1995.

It’s a con­fir­ma­tion for all the work that my team and I have put into this out­reach project, which is great,” Felleisen said of win­ning the award. He added it’s been thrilling over the years to hear from teachers about the pos­i­tive results they get in the class­room as a result of the Teach­Scheme! curriculum.

The novel pro­gram grew out of Felleisen’s real­iza­tion that many high-​​school stu­dents weren’t prop­erly pre­pared for col­lege com­puter sci­ence courses. He said many stu­dents often learn by looking at exam­ples, making a few mod­i­fi­ca­tions and hoping their pro­grams work.

Felleisen sought to develop a solu­tion to this problem, and he ulti­mately cre­ated a “design recipe” that guides stu­dents step-​​by-​​step to go from a blank sheet of paper to a com­pleted pro­gram. Through this process, teachers can check stu­dents’ work at each step and, if there is a problem, pin­point exactly where a stu­dent gets stuck.

The pro­gram works, said Felleisen, because it cre­ates a sys­tem­atic approach to solving prob­lems. He also said that by making math­e­matics the pro­gram­ming lan­guage, stu­dents bol­ster their math and sci­ence skills along the way.

Hun­dreds of edu­ca­tors have studied this process through intense week­long summer work­shops and trans­lated that knowl­edge to thou­sands of stu­dents. The Teach­Scheme! cur­riculum is now used by col­leges and high schools across the globe.

The ACM also rec­og­nized Felleisen for his role in estab­lishing the “Boot­strap” after-​​school pro­gram — based on the Teach­Scheme! cur­riculum — that began with North­eastern stu­dents intro­ducing middle school stu­dents in the region to beginner pro­gram­ming. The pro­gram has since expanded by part­nering with Boston-​​based Cit­izen Schools, which con­nects stu­dents with adult vol­un­teers through a national net­work of after-​​school programs.

Felleisen will receive the honor at the ACM Awards Ban­quet on June 26 in San Fran­cisco. ACM has pre­vi­ously rec­og­nized Felleisen, selecting him as a Fellow in 2006 for his “con­tri­bu­tions to pro­gram­ming lan­guages and devel­op­ment environments.”