CEPProgramme

Timings and topics

The proceedings are published in the ACM Digital Library

Tuesday 8th January 2019

Pre-conference workshop
14:30 What's happening in CompEd? Members of research groups to give a short summary (no more than five minutes) of computing education research activity that is taking place at their institution.
This may include, but is not limited to:
  • an ongoing programme work;
  • work of colleagues you wish to recognise;
  • PhD projects;
  • projects for which partners are sought (or requests for data contributions);
  • ideas to further activity in computing education research in the UK.
After the presentations, there will be time for more general discussion about current work, the funding landscape and potential future directions. If you would like to join this session, please submit a short summary (2-3 sentences) to this form: https://goo.gl/forms/zfODQWmQdVxRbspx1 by mid-day Friday 21st December.
E240

Wednesday 9th January 2019

Main conference
9:00Arrival and registrationChristopherson building entrance
9:15Welcome
Alexandra Cristea and Steven Bradley
Durham University
E005 Christopherson
9:20Keynote
Andrew McGettrick
University of Strathclyde
E005 Christopherson
Session 1: ProjectsE005
9:40

Supervisor Recommendation Tool for Computer Science Projects

Gintare Zemaityte
Kasim Terzic
University of St Andrews
9:55

Investigating the Role Choice of Female Students in a Software Engineering Team Project

Laura Heels
Marie Devlin
Newcastle University
Session 2: PedagogyE005
10:25

Teaching Computing via a School Placement

Faron Moller
Stewart Powell
Swansea University
10:40

Teaching Data Ethics

Tristan Henderson
University of St Andrews
10:55

Nurturing Collaboration in an Undergraduate Computing Course with Robot-themed Team Training and Team Building

Michael Scott
Alcwyn Parker
Brian McDonald
Gareth Lewis
Edward Powley
Falmouth University
11:10

Papertian Mathetics with Concept Map Stories

Amanda Banks Gatenby
Manchester Institute of Education
Session 3: Data and data securityE005
11:55

Designing Computer Security Assessments to Reduce Plagiarism

Rosanne English
University of Strathclyde
12:10

Teaching relational database fundamentals: a lack-of-progress report

Charles Boisvert
Sheffield Hallam University
12:25

Data Protection and Privacy Regulations as an Inter-Active-Constructive Practice

Joseph Maguire
University of Glasgow
Rosanne English
University of Strathclyde
Steve Draper
University of Glasgow
12:40Lunch and demonstrationsAtrium/E240
Session 4: EngagementE005
13:40

The Institute of Coding: Addressing the UK Digital Skills Crisis

James Davenport
University of Bath
Tom Crick
Swansea University
Alan Hayes
University of Bath
Rachid Hourizi
University of Bath
14:00

Engaging with computer science when solving tangible problems

Patricia Charlton
The Open University
Stefan Poslad
QMUL
14:15

Teaching of Computing to Mathematics Students

Jack Betteridge
James Davenport
Melina Freitag
Willem Heijltjes
Stef Kynaston
Gregory Sankaran
Gunnar Traustason
University of Bath
14:30

Improving professionalism in first year computer science students

Shelagh Keogh
Jill Bradnum
Emma Anderson
Northumbria University
Session 5: ProgrammingE005
15:00

Learning to program: from problems to code

Paul Piwek
Michel Wermelinger
Robin Laney
Richard Walker
The Open University
15:15

A Flexible Approach to Introductory Programming

Neil Gordon
Mike Brayshaw
Simon Grey
University of Hull
15:30

Computing with Codio at Coventry University

David Croft
Matthew England
Coventry University
16:00ACM UK & Ireland SIGCSE Annual General MeetingE005 Christopherson
16:30Conference close

Keynote Speaker

Supervisor Recommendation Tool for Computer Science Projects

Gintare Zemaityte
Kasim Terzic
University of St Andrews

In most Computer Science programmes, students are required to undertake an individual project under the guidance of a supervisor during their studies. With increasing student numbers, matching students to suitable supervisors is becoming an increasing challenge. This paper presents a software tool which assists Computer Science students in identifying the most suitable supervisor for their final year project. It does this by matching a list of keywords or a project proposal provided by the students to a list of keywords which were automatically extracted from freely available data for each potential supervisor. The tool was evaluated using both manual and user testing, with generally positive results and user feedback. 83% of respondents agree that the current implementation of the tool is accurate, with 67% saying it would be a useful tool to have when looking for a supervisor. The tool is currently being adapted for wider use in the School.

Investigating the Role Choice of Female Students in a Software Engineering Team Project

Laura Heels
Marie Devlin
Newcastle University

In 2017 the number of individuals who identify as female in the UK studying a STEM subject (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in further education is 35% where as 94% of their peers who identify as male choose a STEM subject to study. This decreases in higher education with 9% of females compared to 29% of males choosing a STEM subject in 2017 [1]. To address this issue there are many initiatives being set up to recruit females into STEM higher education courses. However there is a lack of research into the experiences of female students once they have started their degree programme in Computer Science. In this study we investigate the roles which undergraduate female students choose in a large software engineering team project to find out if there are barriers that prevent them from taking on technical or programming roles in these projects. We analysed assessment data to determine their previous programming experience and then performed a content analysis of team project deliverables and peer assessment scores. The results show that our female students, despite their strong academic background, tend to pick less technical roles in these projects than male students and are subsequently awarded lower peer review scores by their teammates for their contribution to the group work. These results indicate that teaching interventions may need to take place to make the role choice and peer review processes fairer in such projects. Further investigations are needed to see if there is some form of unconscious bias or imposter syndrome occurring in our software engineering team project module and if this is a common phenomenon in these projects in other HE institutions.

Teaching Computing via a School Placement

Faron Moller
Stewart Powell
Swansea University

Across Wales - as, but even more so than, elsewhere - there is a critical shortage of teachers who are qualified to teach Computer Science. This issue is particularly coming to the fore now due to on-going changes to the national school curriculum which is seeing a rigorous computer science curriculum replacing the ICT curriculum which has been passed off as computing in most schools over the past several decades. In this paper we describe the efforts made by Technocamps to tackle this problem by encouraging computer science graduates to consider education as a viable career option. In particular, we outline a credit-bearing module which incorporates an extensive school placement. We discuss the challenges with setting up and running such a module as well as its effectiveness.

Teaching Data Ethics

Tristan Henderson
University of St Andrews

This paper outlines a new Data Ethics & Privacy module that was introduced to computer science students in 2018. The module aims to raise student awareness of current debates in computer science such as bias in artificial intelligence, algorithmic accountability, filter bubbles and data protection, and practical mechanisms for addressing these issues. To do this, the module includes interdisciplinary content from ethics, law and computer science, and also adopts some teaching methods from the law. I describe the format of the module, challenges with module design and approval, some initial comments on the first year’s cohort, and plans for future improvements. I believe that the topic is currently important and this discussion might be of interest to other computer science departments considering the introduction of similar content.

Nurturing Collaboration in an Undergraduate Computing Course with Robot-themed Team Training and Team Building

Michael Scott
Alcwyn Parker
Brian McDonald
Gareth Lewis
Edward Powley
Falmouth University

Group projects are a common feature of undergraduate degree programmes in computing. Early and sustained collaboration helps students to strive beyond introductory programming towards professional software development. However, during their first year of study, students can find teamwork challenging. To equip learners with the foundational knowledge, skills, and experience that they need to collaborate effectively so early in their studies, a 3-day Robot Olympics using Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots can be deployed. The exercise draws upon Salas' big-five model of teamwork, making first-year students aware of coordinating mechanisms that aid in clarifying expectations and managing conflicts. These then act as lenses for reflection and feedback. Comparing a baseline cohort in 2015-16 to a cohort in 2016-17, after the introduction of the Robot Olympics, reveals a statistically significant reduction in team discord in an assessed collaborative programming project (d=0.76). This suggests that the Robot Olympics made a positive contribution to the design of the first computing module. Notably, helping students to enact and reflect upon their group work and related employability skills.

Papertian Mathetics with Concept Map Stories

Amanda Banks Gatenby
Manchester Institute of Education

This paper describes the design and implementation of an assessment inspired by Papert's approach to learning. The assessment is part of a course unit called Digital Making and Learning on a masters programme in Education aimed at students with a predominantly social sciences background. The design of the assessment as part of this course is fundamentally based on Papert's work, and maintains a 'mathetic' approach, focusing on the process of learning rather than a transfer of knowledge and competencies. In order to do this, an online collaborative concept-mapping tool with history-tracking functionality is adopted. The paper describes the social theory lens that informs the entire course and associated assessment design. The practical implementation of the course and how the assessment task functions as part of this learning design is explained, and finally some early evidence for the efficacy of the assessment is discussed.

Designing Computer Security Assessments to Reduce Plagiarism

Rosanne English
University of Strathclyde

Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty for computing science assessments is a well documented issue. A common mode of dealing with this is to apply plagiarism detector software to code submissions to check for suspected plagiarism based on how similar submissions are. However, it arguably is less well established how to design computing science specific assessments which aim to reduce the possibility of plagiarism, whilst not disadvantaging students who may struggle with some aspects of an assessment. This paper aims to report on the design and practice of such an assessment within a computer security course.

Teaching relational database fundamentals: a lack-of-progress report

Charles Boisvert
Sheffield Hallam University

This paper describes and evaluates changes introduced in six successive years teaching a relational databases module. We explain how we plan to obtain some certainty on the value of interventions. Using an archive of data over the period, we find some interventions that should not be repeated. We also show that most changes introduced did not significantly improve students' learning, contrary to expectations. Instead, factors that were ignored had more influence on performance that factors we attempted to affect.

Data Protection and Privacy Regulations as an Inter-Active-Constructive Practice

Joseph Maguire
University of Glasgow
Rosanne English
University of Strathclyde
Steve Draper
University of Glasgow

The aspiration of many governments around the world is to ensure all university graduates are well-versed in computing science and its related topics. This results in many graduates participating in postgraduate conversion courses. Many computing science schools favour delivering aspects of some topics, such as cyber security, simultaneously to students majoring in computing science and those converting to it. The challenge becomes integrating and understanding such a disparate student cohort. In this paper, we propose as a solution a learning design that has active, constructive and interactive elements. Student experience is reported and discussed, before considering the many benefits of the design.

The Institute of Coding: Addressing the UK Digital Skills Crisis

James Davenport
University of Bath
Tom Crick
Swansea University
Alan Hayes
University of Bath
Rachid Hourizi
University of Bath

The Institute of Coding is a new £40m+ initiative by the UK Government to transform the digital skills profile of the country. In the context of significant national and international education and skills policy scrutiny, it responds to the apparently contradictory data that the country has a digital skills shortage across a variety of sectors, yet the university system produces computing graduates every year who end up unemployed, or underemployed. In this paper, we describe the background and evidence base for the Institute of Coding, its key themes and current activities, as well as reflecting on potential replicability of aspects of the Institute to other nations or regions with similar ambitions.

Engaging with computer science when solving tangible problems

Patricia Charlton
The Open University
Stefan Poslad
QMUL

This research investigates part of the challenge of widening participation and inclusion for teaching and learning about CS that the Institute of Coding plans to address. This research reports on working with a large number of schools, researchers and academics both formally and informally and across a wide age range and ability. The findings from a number of studies reflects important pedagogical theory, design and practice of teaching and learning about the computer science and engineering through tangible learning context. These findings and observations are examined in the light of these teaching and learning experiences and especially the observation of development of resilience in students learning and engagement in challenging areas of study.

Teaching of Computing to Mathematics Students

Jack Betteridge
James Davenport
Melina Freitag
Willem Heijltjes
Stef Kynaston
Gregory Sankaran
Gunnar Traustason
University of Bath

This paper describes a course that has been running for over nine years, teaching Programming to large number of Mathematics students. The distinctive features of it include the fact that it was designed as part of a wholesale curriculum review (rather than being a pre-packaged course), that its design took into account the nature of the syllabus and what else the students would be using programming for, both in the rest of their course and beyond, and that the course is more than 'just' a programming course.

Improving professionalism in first year computer science students

Shelagh Keogh
Jill Bradnum
Emma Anderson
Northumbria University

Professionalism is a philosophy or a notional standard by which a person can be judged or can aspire to be perceived in their approach and behaviour in the context of professional practice. Far from being a tangible object, which one can see, hear or touch, it is a philosophically and socially constructed ideal. We argue that professionalism is essential in computing to protect the public as computing is ubiquitous and reaches into every sphere in society. Teaching professionalism is always a challenge. It is acknowledged that there is no agreed definition of what constitutes a professional in any profession, despite the concept being around for centuries.

Learning to program: from problems to code

Paul Piwek
Michel Wermelinger
Robin Laney
Richard Walker
The Open University

This paper introduces the approach to teaching problem-solving and text-based programming that has been adopted in a large, post-18, undergraduate, key introductory module (L4 FHEQ) on Computing and Information Technology at the Open University (UK). We describe how students are equipped with programming, but foremost problem-solving skills. Key ingredients of the approach are interleaving of skills, explicit worked examples of decomposition, formulation of algorithms (with the help of patterns for recurring problems) and translation to code. Preliminary results are encouraging: students' average course work scores increase as they progress through the course.

A Flexible Approach to Introductory Programming

Neil Gordon
Mike Brayshaw
Simon Grey
University of Hull

In this paper, we consider an approach to supporting students of Computer Science as they embark upon their university studies. The transition to Computer Science can be challenging for students, and equally challenging for those teaching them. Issues that are unusual – if not unique – to teaching computing at this level include

The variation in background includes the style of prior academic experience, with some students coming from traditional level 3 (i.e. A-levels), some through more vocational routes (e.g. B-Tech, though these have changed in recent years), through to those from experiential (work based) learning. Technical background varies from science, mathematical and computing experience, to no direct advanced technical or scientific experience.

A further issue is students' attainment and progression within higher education, where the success and outcomes in computer science has been identified as particularly problematic. Computer Science has one the worst records for retention (i.e. students leaving with no award, or a lower award than that originally applied for), and the second worst for attainment (i.e. achieving a good degree, that being defined as a first or a 2:1).

One way to attempt to improve these outcomes is by identifying effective ways to improve student engagement. This can be through appropriate motivators – though then the balance of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation becomes critical. In this paper, we consider how to utilize assessment – combining the formative and summative aspects - as a substitute for coarser approaches based on attendance monitoring.

Computing with Codio at Coventry University

David Croft
Matthew England
Coventry University

We describe our experience using Codio at Coventry University in our undergraduate programming curriculum. Codio provides students with online virtual Linux boxes, and allows staff to equip these with guides written in markdown and supplemental tasks that provide automated feedback. The use of Codio has coincided with a steady increase in student performance and satisfaction as well as far greater data on student engagement and performance.