Lunch and morning/afternoon refreshments will be provided.
Following the main conference agenda all delegates are invited to stay
for an additional session within the same venue hosted by the British
Computer Society where Anne Jenkinson will deliver a talk on what universities should be teaching (and how) in their computer science programmes, with particular emphasis on emerging security requirements. The session will start at 6.30 in E101 with refreshments provided beforehand.
* Presenting authors are marked with an asterisk.
Sally Fincher is Professor of Computing Education at the University of
Kent. She is head of the Computing Education Research Group so
unsurprisingly most of her interests focus on the teaching and
learning of Computer Science.
She is a Vice Chair of the CPHC committee, and currently Chair the
CPHC Learning Development Group as well as a member of the Board of
the BCS Academy of Computing, editor of the journal Computer Science
Education. In 2010 Sally was the recipient of the ACM SIGCSE award for
Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education with the
citation For outstanding contributions to computing education research
and inspiring a generation of computing education researchers.
Dr Catherine (Kay) Hack is the academic lead for STEM with
the Higher Education Academy. As well as UK and international
consultancy, she is involved in STEM activity across the HE sector,
and is managing the current call for Cyber Security Projects. Prior
to joining the HEA she was a senior lecturer in the School of
Biomedical Sciences at Ulster University and has extensive experience
of on-campus and distance learning teaching in Bioethics and
Computing education at a distance: developing communities of practice
The Open University has recently introduced a new institution wide policy called the Group Tuition Policy. One of the key principles of the policy is that for every face to face learning event, there must have an online equivalent. This poses some unique challenges in terms of pedagogy for computing modules, but it also creates some interesting and exciting opportunities too. This presentation presents a brief summary of the tuition that is delivered across three different computing and IT modules: an introductory computing module, a web-technologies module, and an interaction design module. One interesting and positive side effect of the new policy is that it facilitate the creation of informal communities of practice. Key benefits include: increased discussion and collaboration between tutors, and an opportunity to work more closely with others. This has the advantage of being able to observe tuition practice, gain confidence, and to offer ongoing peer support. A key challenge is, of course, how to establish and maintain an effective computing teaching community. To conclude: there are no simple or easy answers but important lessons include the necessity of constant and ongoing communication and the need to consider and develop tailored staff development events that take account of the needs of a particular learning community.
Can Students Binary Self-Assess? - Yes/No
Queen's University, Belfast
A problem faced by some modules on computing degrees is the wide variation in the students' prior computer experience and knowledge. Some students are effectively a blank slate whilst others may have considerable exposure to some topics in the module. Teaching to the middle of the group risks losing the no experience students and initially boring the more experienced students.
At Queen's University, Belfast we have constructed a system that allows students to self-assess their capability on a simple Yes/No/Don't Know scale against fine grained learning outcomes for a module. As the term progresses students update their record as appropriately.
In the system each of the learning outcomes are linked to the relevant teaching session (lectures and labs) and to online resources that students can access at any time. By allowing students to structure their own learning experience to their needs and preferences in to attain the learning outcomes, the students should remain engaged with the module regardless of prior experience.
The system keeps a history of the student's record, allowing the lecturer to observe how the students' abilities progress over the term and to compare it to assessment results. The system also keeps of any of the resource links that student has clicked on and the related learning outcome.
The initial work compares the accuracy of the student self-assessments with their performance in the related questions in the traditional end-of-year examination. Estimated marks, calculated by mapping the learning outcomes to parts of questions in the exam, were found to have a weak correlation to the student performance. Analysing individual learning outcomes, most learning outcomes were correct for over 50% of the students, with more complex learning outcomes having the lower reliability scores. Female students were found to have less reliable scores, mainly due to greater false-negative in their self-assessments.
An Integrated First year CS Curriculum
One of the challenges facing the Computer Science degree at Middlesex University was motivating a highly-diverse student body, keeping all students engaged in meaningful learning from day one, whilst laying solid foundations including discrete maths, logic and programming. Traditional approaches focus on the content of individual modules and ways of making these enjoyable and accessible: however this leaves the demanding task of understanding the big picture to the student. In 2012 we embarked on a radically different approach: a unified first year entirely focused on problem-based learning, with competency-based assessment running alongside teaching structures that allow all students to study at their own pace and in very flexible ways.
The core content, far from being radical, turned out to be very traditional, with discrete maths, logic, functional programming, design and physical computing pervading everything we did. Students build real circuits from real gates, expressing the problem in formal ways, simulating the functions in Racket and discussing design trade-offs. Much of the curriculum is embedded in technology we have designed to support activities. In particular, we focus on designing systems where computation is manifest in the behaviour of objects in the real world, so that abstract concepts are manifest in physical forms.
Three years experience of running this programme suggests some very interesting conclusions. Progression rates are massively improved. The best students really push themselves. The "weaker" students cannot avoid the fundamental material, and discover that hard work and well-supported engagement enables them to succeed. The assessment strategy is based on live, compentency-based, observations of activities, and approach that has now been rolled out across several other areas of the university (suitably customised and adapted). Many valuable lessons have been learnt, which will be shared.
Design and implementation of a web broadcasting learning platform to focus on the re-imagining of live synchronous pedagogy practices within the teaching and learning of software development in Higher Education.
Webinars, online broadcasting and web conferencing platforms research has shown that this technology has the potential to offer learners an enhanced learning experience. So why is it that the integration of this technical approach in Higher Education is so poor? The presentation will investigate a new software implementation to show if an improved feature set is delivered, then enhancements to the webinar-based pedagogy can be produced.
The web-broadcasting platform has been embedded into the delivery of an undergraduate Computer Science module that teaches software and development processes. It introduces a focused approach that specialises on tackling modern problems and issues that arise from the teaching and learning of software development and programming in Higher Education. These include, but not limited to; large student populations; shallow and sluggish feedback; unstable learner engagement levels and the age old issue with traditional lectures not providing a rich learning environment to deliver programming processes and practices. The purpose built platform offers a rich feature set that integrates: high broadcast quality; low lag; synchronous learner analytic data; peer to peer mechanism for student support and a pedagogy that focuses on learning by doing rather than show and tell approach. The authors will present research that indicates students are willing to engage and accept this new broadcasting platform as a possible better delivery model for software development practices due to it enhancing their learning experience.
Please Mummy, Just One More Go: An Approach to Unconscious Gamification in Assessment
This experience report discusses innovative assessment methods in a module at the University of the West of Scotland. The method follows on from work described by Roberts (2006) in his paper "The Use of Multiple Choice Tests for Formative and Summative Assessment".
The soft skills component of any subject is always problematic to present to technically based students. In Computing, where topics such as professionalism, ethics and legislation are not only crucial for the students' careers but also integral to BCS accreditation, the challenges of covering these themes is fundamental to the success of multiple programmes.
In creating a new module to address these subjects multiple criteria were set including:
- maintaining student interest levels
- creation of materials suitable for delivery to large cohorts
- ability to be taught over multiple programmes and campuses
- flexibility for close examination and discussion of the materials by the student
- covering the subject in just six weeks
To address these issues a blended delivery model was conceived. Extensive use would be made of features built into the VLE to encourage asynchronous study and discussion.
Radically different assessment methods were also piloted. Online multiple choice assessments were created that could be attempted as many times as required while the assessment was open. Gamification was introduced by allowing students to decide whether to accept their mark or to take another attempt. The written assessment component was peer marked using a random, anonymous method whereby three members of the cohort marked their peers' submissions.
181 students enrolled in the module at five geographically diverse campuses, taught by three different members of staff plus another three for tutorial support. In addition there was one purely online student.
Some lessons from this approach, including results and student and tutor reflections, are covered in this presentation.
Validity of group marks in computing projects vs. individual attainment
Queen's University Belfast
The demand for graduate computing professionals has steadily increased over the past numbers of years with the IT sector regularly requiring 140,000 entrants each year in the UK (eskills, 2013). However, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (2016) there are only 16,000 computing graduates each year, leaving a shortfall of 120,000 per annum. Accordingly UK universities have responded by increasing their intake in computing degrees. Despite the increase in student numbers there has been not been a receptive increase in teaching staff levels. Consequently, this has placed increased demands on the staff in terms of workload and resulted in changes in teaching and assessment structures. Traditionally with smaller cohort numbers the majority of assessment of programming in computing pathways involves the use of continual assessment, including a variety of individual summative practical assessments and a final summative exam. This is a well-established but not necessarily good practice, with employers generally very critical that it produces graduates that lack productive collaboration skills due to the individual nature of the learning structures and assessments. Moreover, the increased student numbers has led to an evolved change, with many academic staff changing assessment strategies. While final individual exams have for the most part been retained, there has been an increase in group projects in an attempt to manage large scale assessment. Anecdotally it has been observed that some students that gain high marks in group based projects often fail to achieve the same standard in the associated individual assessments and final exam, despite the learning outcomes for both being comparable. The validity, reliability, opportunities for formative assessment and effect on teaching associated with the group programming projects continues to be a concern for students, module owners and external examiners and is a common source of debate at exam board level.
This research seeks to provide a critical evaluation of group based project assignments commonly used as a measure of academic achievement in university computing degree programmes. It statistically analyses a number of module results from different cohorts that have an element of assessment via group work but also individual assessment. It focuses on the relationship between the individually attained marks and that attributed per individual via the group projects and reports on the outcomes of this analysis.
PILeT: an Interactive Learning Tool To Teach Python
Oxford Brookes University
One of the expected learning outcomes in an introductory programming module is for students to create program in a chosen programming language. However, many students fail at achieving that objective (McCracken et al, 2013), and some computing major students complete their undergraduate degree without mastering rudimentary programming skills or consider career opportunities that steer away from programming (Shadbolt, 2016).
Though the literature on teaching introductory programming is vast (Pears et al, 2017), it is widely acknowledged that teaching programming is challenging (Scott, 2013). The process of finding the appropriate teaching methodology and applying it on a diverse group of learners has serious implications towards either the success or failure of students.
There is growing evidence (Thomas et al., 2002, Allert, 2004, Zualkernan et al., 2006) of the existing relationships between learning styles and teaching methodologies. Instead of implementing a one-size-fits-all kind of approach to teaching programming, it is important to acknowledge the learning styles of students from different academic backgrounds with different abilities and adopt a teaching technique that support several learners preferences.
In order to achieve this goal, we have developed a web based interactive learning tool to teach Python programming language (PILeT) (Alshaigy et al, 2015). The tool's novel contribution is that it offers a combination of pedagogical methods to support the student's learning style. Each programming concept is explained using several teaching methods in which the student can learn from independently, or in combination with other approaches. Additionally, a quiz is attached at attached the end of each lesson to assess the student's understanding of the taught concept.
The experimental results show that teaching programming using PILeT increases students' performance in programming and has a positive impact on their learning as reported from their feedback and exam scores.
Allert, J., 2004, August. Learning style and factors contributing to success in an introductory computer science course. In Advanced Learning Technologies, 2004. Proceedings. IEEE International Conference on (pp. 385-389). IEEE.
Alshaigy, B., Kamal, S., Mitchell, F., Martin, C. and Aldea, A., 2015, November. PILeT: an Interactive Learning Tool To Teach Python. In Proceedings of the Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education (pp. 76-79). ACM.
McCracken, M., Almstrum, V., Diaz, D., Guzdial, M., Hagan, D., Kolikant, Y.B.D., Laxer, C., Thomas, L., Utting, I. and Wilusz, T., 2001. A multi-national, multi-institutional study of assessment of programming skills of first-year CS students. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 33(4), pp.125-180.
Pears, A., Seidman, S., Malmi, L., Mannila, L., Adams, E., Bennedsen, J., Devlin, M. and Paterson, J., 2007. A survey of literature on the teaching of introductory programming. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 39(4), pp.204-223.
Scott, M.J. and Ghinea, G., 2013. Educating programmers: A reflection on barriers to deliberate practice. arXiv preprint arXiv:1311.0390.
Shadbolt, N., 2016. Shadbolt review of computer sciences degree accreditation and graduate employability: April 2016.
Thomas, L., Ratcliffe, M., Woodbury, J. and Jarman, E., 2002, February. Learning styles and performance in the introductory programming sequence. In ACM SIGCSE Bulletin (Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 33-37). ACM.
Zualkernan, I.A., Allert, J. and Qadah, G.Z., 2006. Learning styles of computer programming students: a Middle Eastern and American comparison. IEEE Transactions on Education, 49(4), pp.443-450.
An Analysis of Introductory University Programming Courses in the UK
Cardiff Metropolitan University
This talk presents the results of the first survey of introductory programming courses (N= 80) taught at UK universities as part of their first year computer science (or similar) degree programmes, conducted in the first half of 2016. We report on student numbers, programming paradigm, programming languages and environment/tools used, as well as the reasons for choice of such. Furthermore, the results of this national survey are compared with a related survey conducted since 2010 (as well as earlier surveys from 2001 and 2003) in Australia and New Zealand.
The results in this first UK survey indicate a dominance of Java at a time when universities are still generally teaching students who are new to programming (and computer science), despite increasing perceptions - potentially driven by school curriculum and qualifications reforms - that Python is both easier to teach as well as to learn. Perhaps more importantly, this survey provides a starting point for valuable pedagogic baseline data in the context of substantial computer science curriculum reform in UK schools, as well as increasingly scrutiny of teaching excellence and graduate employability for UK universities.
What?-model versus How?-model: an effective way to teach computing and engineering programs
Muhammad Zeeshan Shakir
University of the West of Scotland
Muhammad Ali Imran*
University of Glasgow
We are investigating the effectiveness of different teaching approaches in computing and engineering programs. To this end, we want to compare the student interest and engagement in two teaching models: What?-model versus How?-model. A correct balance of teaching the fundamentals of computing and engineering module and then spending right amount of time in show-and-tell activities and design projects is essential for the success of teaching any computing and engineering module. Show-and-tell activities include interactive workshops, research-inspired seminar, and practical implementation and visits to relevant computing and engineering industries that could engage the students and motivate them for an enquiry based useful-learning in computing and engineering modules. Therefore, in this approach, the students are inspired to learn by practically applying the knowledge, implementing the fundamentals and perform the tasks in labs and projects to ensure blended learning with lab-aligned teaching. Moreover, the lab, lecture and interactive assessment components in computing and engineering modules should be tightly integrated and synchronised in the timing for the delivery of the content.
Guessers and Thinkers: Categorising the learning styles of online SQL learners
Edinburgh Napier University
Students using online learning tools have more discretion to answer questions at their own pace compared to traditional learning environments, and tracking their behaviour can yield valuable insights into learning style, which can be used to help tackle the bimodal pattern of achievement (Robins, 2010) and poor persistence on Computer Science courses.
We examine the use of one such learning tool (SQLzoo) and analyse student behaviour using techniques and metrics outlined by Ahadi, Lister, Haapala, & Vihavainen (2015). We attempt to categorise the learning style of students according to the frequency, timing and accuracy of their responses. We follow Jadud's definition (2006) of a work session as at least seven distinct submissions for any number of exercises where no neighbouring submissions in the sequence are separated by 20 minutes (Ihantola, et al., 2015).
Our results show that male students make many more attempts per user than female students, and their achievement is slightly better overall. Based on our findings, we propose that there are two types of learners, guessers and thinkers, aligning roughly to active and reflective learners in the Felder Silverman Learning Styles Model (1988), and that SQLzoo, like many tools and exercises used to teach coding, favours the learning style of guessers. We propose that the gender difference is due to a higher prevalence of guessers amongst male students than female students, where thinkers are more prevalent.
We argue that reluctance to guess answers is indicative of lower confidence and self-efficacy (Settle, Lalor, & Steinbach, 2015) in female students and some male students, and that there is a danger that the poor performance generates negative feedback, which exacerbates the poor self-efficacy (Lishinski, Yadav, Good, & Enbody, 2016). However, we feel this potentially damaging cycle could be mitigated by improving SQLzoo to accommodate the different learning styles.
Flexible Online Revision Support for SQL using Oscar Conversational Intelligent Tutoring System (CITS)
Manchester Metropolitan University
Oscar CITS is a multi-agent system that engages in personalised tutoring conversations to help undergraduate students revise SQL. Oscar CITS is modelled on a human tutorial, directing the revision conversation and intervening when students struggle to answer questions by offering support with additional learning material (e.g. examples, videos), hints and natural language discussion. During the conversation Oscar CITS automatically profiles student learning style preferences and adapts by favouring an individual's preferred approach. Unlike traditional e-learning systems Oscar CITS provides intelligent solution analysis to help students spot and learn from their mistakes rather than marking erroneous answers incorrect, supporting construction of knowledge.
A study integrated Oscar CITS into SQL courses at Manchester Metropolitan University and investigated its usefulness in supporting undergraduate computing students in a real teaching/learning environment. Of 187 HE student participants with experience of SQL, 110 completed the online tutorial, and 96 completed optional feedback questionnaires (51%). The study found that Oscar CITS helped learners increase their test scores by an average of 13%. 93% of participants rated the tutoring highly, with 53% awarding the highest rating. Whilst 85% of participants stated they would use Oscar CITS to support classroom teaching, 66% would use Oscar rather than reading a book and a surprising 41% preferred Oscar to classroom tutoring. There were many positive comments on Oscar's availability and instant responses, and a number of participants liked that Oscar "encouraged me to think rather than giving me the answer". Comments on Oscar CITS being "non-judgemental" and enabling "work at own pace" highlighted further benefits of computerised support over classroom settings.
In conclusion participants enjoyed Oscar CITS' flexibility and availability, non-judgemental support and instant feedback from integration of intelligent solution analysis, problem solving support and curriculum adaptation. Further work will investigate the effect on learner confidence.
Enhancing student engagement in lecture sessions through innovative teaching practices
Sheffield Hallam University
Student engagement is central and crucial in one's teaching career especially in early teaching career. However, there are various reasons for student dis-engagement especially during a lecture session. And this, in our opinion need not always got to be with the lecturer, which is why it is important to get into little details of 'why' is a particular student or group appears to be dis-engaged during a lecture. We believe that aiming at 100% student engagement, could lead to 'reflective' teaching practice that could pave way for innovations and self-improvements.
It was noticed a particular group which was little less engaged with the networking module because they felt it was a bit 'too' technical. It was then decided to relate a real time scenario- Royal Mail to networking in order to explain certain complex processes such as packet transfer, protocols, IP addressing followed by an interactive video and a little quiz. This particular group responded pretty well to the change in 'teaching methodology'. In the end, they not just engaged well with the module, but they 'enjoyed' the module and carried a pleasant student experience with them.
Student engagement in our little experience is not entirely dependent upon the teaching methodology but also to some extent on the deliverance and the dynamics of the classroom which rests with the lecturer Hence, dynamic content and innovative teaching methods could lead to a more enriching student experience and prolonged engagement with a lesson especially if the lecture lasts for two hours or more.
Gendered motivations and choices in computing higher education
There is a large body of research about increasing women's participation in computing and many theories about why the number of women choosing to study computing is low (Cohoon & Asprey, 2006) despite numerous initiatives that aim to increase the numbers. Much of the previous research is focused on young women who are entering higher education for the first time, but little exists on mature students who may be seeking to improve and/or change careers.
Recent data shows that the percentage of women enrolling on the Computing & IT degree at the UK Open University is still falling although figures at undergraduate levels 2 and 3 indicate that the problem is not one of retention but more likely to do with recruitment. The data also shows that a lower proportion of women enrol on the single honours Computing & IT degree programme compared to the joint honours or open degree programmes, where students choose to study some computing modules but supplement this with other subjects. This suggests that women are making different choices about computing degrees than male students.
This presentation will report on initial data collected as part of a current project at the Open University that focuses on distance-learning students, many of whom are mature students and studying part-time. Survey and focus group data that explore gendered differences in study motivation across the different computing related degrees will be discussed. This work will be of interest to anyone interested in strategies of inclusion for enrolment on computing courses and will contribute to the research on gendered motivation and choice (Lazarides & Ittel, 2015).
Cohoon, J. M. & Asprey, W. (2006). Women and Information Technology: Research on underrepresentation. MIT Press.
Lazarides, R. & Ittel, A. (2015). Editorial: Gendered Motivation and Choice in STEM - Individual and Contextual Factors. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, Vol. 7, No. 2.
How high is the coding barrier? A quantitative analysis of student transitions from stage 1 to stage 2 programming.
The Open University
In order to achieve success throughout their studies, Computer Science (CS) students must quickly acquire skills in basic programming concepts such as problem-solving, looping and the construction of simple algorithms. Perennial questions for CS educators are thus how best to introduce students to these concepts, and what the relative merits are of using simpler programming languages such as Scratch, compared to standard languages such as Java. Some e.g. Armoni et al (2015), report positively on the use of Scratch as an introductory programming language whilst others debate whether to introduce objects earlier or later (Kunkle and Allen, 2016). The area that we are interested in is how to effect a successful student transition from one programming language type to the other.
The aims of this Open University project involving Computing and IT students were to:-
1.investigate if any correlation exists between success in programming on a Stage 2 module (Java) and levels of student engagement with the programming taught at Stage 1 (Sense);
2.investigate if any correlation exists between failure to complete the Stage 2 module and student engagement with the programming at Stage 1;
3.gain insight into how well students believed they had been prepared for Stage 2 programming work by the use of Sense at Stage 1.
Initial results show that there is some correlation between assessment results at Stage 1 and those at Stage 2, although the relationship is not straight forward. For example, 6.5% of Stage 2 students, who passed the Java module assessments, had previously failed (scored less than 40% overall) the Sense (a bespoke version of Scratch) programming assessments at Stage 1.
Analysis of survey responses from students who did complete Stage 2 studies suggests that whilst some students believed that their Stage 1 programming studies had prepared them well or fairly well for the complexities of Level 2 programming, and the use of Java, a significant minority didn't.
Armoni, M., Meerbaum-Salant, O., Ben-Ari, M. (2015) 'From Scratch to "Real" Programming', ACM Transactions on Computing Education, vol. 14, no. 4, Article 25
Kunkle, W.M., and Allen, R.B. (2016) The impact of different teaching approaches and languages on student learning of introductory programming concepts. ACM Transactions on Computing Education vol. 16, no. 1, Article 3
A framework for CS Education research practice
University of Southampton
The field of research into computer science education of university students is wide-ranging. Like all educational research in higher education (HE) it encompasses every stage of of the process from transition into HE considering retention and progression, through to employability and career destinations.
A good deal of energy is expended along the way to look into details of the CS curriculum, as it is experienced but the student, particularly learning to program and integration of learning through capstone projects. Alongside such topics, particular contexts such as laboratory learning, assessment and student motivation are examined.
This paper presents a research framework developed during the study of first year students learning to program. The pivot of the research was to consider what changes might be observed in students behaviours and learning preferences which might relate to the context of learners operating in a connected world. This context was seen to contrast with the bulk of preceding literature which predominantly situated the learning process in reference to the languages and programming paradigms.
One outcome of the study was to propose a framework for classroom research which relates to educational processes and organisation common in UK computer science courses. This presentation will present the framework and discuss its possible strengths and weaknesses.
Transition into the First Year of an Undergraduate Computer Science Course
The transition students face when starting an undergraduate course at university is something which concerns staff throughout higher education and we need to help our students with any issues they may have. At Newcastle University neither Computer Science nor Maths A-level are a requirement for entry to the first year undergraduate Computer Science course, therefore we have students with a wide range of educational backgrounds. We discuss the preliminary results of a longitudinal empirical study which investigates the transitional issues and educational background of students starting our undergraduate course. The aim is to see what different kinds of support students may need to help them better adapt to the university environment. An initial survey at the start of academic year 2016 to 266 first year Computer Science undergraduates at Newcastle University asked participants if they felt welcomed to the university and if they needed any help with a range of academic and
pastoral issues. We report on an analysis of students' responses and their entry qualifications to see if there is a correlation between educational background and transition issues into university. A second, similar survey later in the semester investigates whether or not students' issues have changed or disappeared. We will carry out a series of further investigations monitoring these changes.
Jigsaw Java: Intelligent, Automated Marking
The popularity of Computing degrees in the UK has increased significantly over the past number of years but this is tainted as they continue to maintain the highest dropout rates.
In Queen's University Belfast we currently have an intake of over 400 computing students. As academics we want to empower and motivate them to fully engage with the course content in particular a Java programming module which aims to provide an understanding of the basic principles of object-oriented design.
In order to assess these skills, we have developed Jigsaw Java as an innovative assessment tool offering intelligent, semi-supervised automated marking of code. For many of the students this is the first time they will have tried to program and therefore instilling a passion and interest is paramount if they are to be successful in their studies. One of the main issues is the fact that if all students, in a large class, submit code to be manually marked and returned with useful feedback the process takes too long. If the students are lost at the point of submission of this task, by the time feedback is returned they have missed too much content to catch up and they become very demotivated.
Jigsaw Java allows students to answer programming questions using a drag-and-drop interface to place code fragments into position. Their answer is compared to the sample solution and if it matches, marks are allocated accordingly. However, if a match is not found then the corresponding code is executed using sample data to determine if its logic is acceptable. If it is, the solution is flagged to be checked by staff and if satisfactory is saved as an alternative solution. Jigsaw Java is also able to consider partial marks dependent on code placement and will "learn" over time.
A bad analogy is like a pigeonhole: A reflection on the use of analogy for the explanation of complex concepts in theoretical computer science
The explanation of complex concepts in theoretical computer science is one of the key challenges that face a computing education practitioner. This problem is not only limited to education. An expert witness, when presenting digital evidence in court to a lay jury, faces similar challenges.
Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from one particular subject (the analogue or source) to another (the target). The use of analogy to explain difficult concepts has historically proven to be effective. However, there are potential risks and without due care an analogy may (paradoxically) become more complex and difficult to understand than the original concept being conveyed.
To understand this problem further, a metric for measuring the effectiveness of an analogy is presented. The metric is built on three key components: target, payload, and delivery. The target is the audience and their level of domain knowledge. The payload is the content and its potential effectiveness based on general type, extendibility, and quality of mapping. The final component is an assessment of the precision of the delivery for the correct sequencing, grammatical structure, and language.
A number of analogies commonly used in computer science are assessed using the new metric. The results show that the analogies tested are rated between 'good' and 'very good' for effectiveness. However, any minor deviation either within the analogy itself or during it's delivery can have a significant impact on an analogy's overall effectiveness. Also, students may come from wide range of backgrounds, and therefore, some traditional reference points previously used for analogies may no longer be suitable.
In summary, this presentation provides a reflection on the use of analogy for the explanation of complex concepts in theoretical computer science and provides a tool for practitioners to review their own portfolio of analogies in their teaching.
Towards Gender-Inclusive Programming Pedagogy
Oxford Brookes University
Rober Gordon University
It is well documented that there is a gender gap in STEM subjects such as computer science (Camp, 1997; GÃ¼rer et al., 2002). Declining numbers of female graduates (Universities UK, 2015) has serious implications for representation in the workforce and consequently the design of technology products (Rosser, 2006). A vast amount of research explores the reasons behind the gap (Beyer et al., 2003; Margolis et al., 2003). Some of the reported difficulties include low confidence levels (Beckwith, 2004) and distorted perception of performances (Chen, 1986). It is important to recognise that female students can be disproportionately affected by such issues and, while teaching practice should be inclusive (Pulimood al, 2008), pedagogies should be designed accordingly (Alvarado et al, 2014).
The particular challenge associated with low confidence and distorted perception can be explored through the lens of control and value appraisals. Students make self-efficacy attributions in may ways, and sometimes do not make positive appraisals after otherwise positive programming experiences (Kinnunen & Simon, 2012). This has implications on key variables that influence programming anxiety, practice behaviour, and subsequent achievement (Scott & Ghinea, 2014). However, there are strategies can make students consciously aware of their cognitive behaviour and help them to make constructive appraisals.
To this end, the authors explore practices that influence appraisals, leading to changes in self-perceptions and confidence levels in ways that typically lead to improvements in programming achievement, such as: personal robots (Scott et al, 2015; Zarb et al, 2016); media computation (Rich, Perry & Guzdial, 2004; Guzdial, 2013); psychological scaffolding (Cutts et al, 2010; Scott & Ghinea, 2013); and the "trio of best practice" consisting of contextualisation, peer instruction, and pair programming (Porter & Simon, 2013).
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Beyer, S., Rynes, K., Perrault, J., Hay, K. and Haller, S., 2003. Gender differences in computer science students. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 35(1), pp.49-53.
Camp, T., 1997. The incredible shrinking pipeline. Communications of the ACM, 40(10), pp.103-110.
Chen, M., 1986. Gender and computers: The beneficial effects of experience on attitudes. Journal of educational computing research, 2(3), pp.265-282.
Cutts, Q., Cutts, E., Draper, S., O'Donnell, P. and Saffrey, P., 2010, March. Manipulating mindset to positively influence introductory programming performance. In Proceedings of the 41st ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (pp. 431-435). ACM.
GÃ¼rer, D. and Camp, T., 2002. An ACM-W literature review on women in computing. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 34(2), pp.121-127.
Guzdial, M., 2013, August. Exploring hypotheses about media computation. In Proceedings of the ninth annual international ACM conference on International computing education research (pp. 19-26). ACM.
Kinnunen, P. and Simon, B., 2012. My program is ok - am I? Computing freshmen's experiences of doing programming assignments. Computer Science Education, 22(1), pp.1-28.
Margolis, J. and Fisher, A., 2003. Unlocking the clubhouse: Women in computing. MIT press.
Pulimood, S.M. and Wolz, U., 2008. Problem solving in community: a necessary shift in cs pedagogy. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 40(1), pp.210-214.
Porter, L. and Simon, B., 2013, March. Retaining nearly one-third more majors with a trio of instructional best practices in CS1. In Proceeding of the 44th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (pp. 165-170). ACM.
Rich, L., Perry, H. and Guzdial, M., 2004, March. A CS1 course designed to address interests of women. In ACM SIGCSE Bulletin (Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 190-194). ACM.
Rosser, S. V. (2006): Using the Lenses of Feminist Theories to Focus on Women and
Technology. In: Fox, M. F./Johnson, D. G./Rosser, S. V. (Eds.): Women, Gender and
Technology. Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press. 13-46
Scott, M.J., Counsell, S., Lauria, S., Swift, S., Tucker, A., Shepperd, M. and Ghinea, G., 2015. Enhancing practice and achievement in introductory programming with a robot olympics. IEEE Transactions on Education, 58(4), pp.249-254.
Scott, M.J. & Ghinea, G. (2013) Educating Programmers: A Reflection on Barriers to Deliberate Practice\". Proceedings of the 2nd HEA Conference on Learning and Teaching in STEM Disciplines. April 17-18, 2013, Birmingham, UK. HEA. pp. 028P.
Scott, M.J. and Ghinea, G., 2014. On the domain-specificity of mindsets: The relationship between aptitude beliefs and programming practice. IEEE Transactions on Education, 57(3), pp.169-174.
Scutt, M., Gilmartin, S.K., Sheppard, S. and Brunhaver, S., 2013. Research-informed practices for inclusive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classrooms: strategies for educators to close the gender gap. Am Soc Engineering Educ.
Universities UK (2015) Patterns and trends in UK higher education - 2015. Available at: http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/facts-and-stats/data-and-analysis/Pages/patterns-and-trends-uk-higher-education-2015.aspx (accessed 07/06/16)
Zarb, M. & Siegel, A. (2016) Facilitating first year student transitions into HE computing using LEGO Mindstorms. Proceedings of the 4th HEA Conference on Learning and Teaching in STEM Disciplines. January 28-29, 2016, Nottingham, UK. HEA.
Diagnosis of Setbacks and Intervention in Introductory Programming at Scale
Rober Gordon University
Oxford Brookes University
It can be challenging to support and motivate programming students in introductory contexts (Jenkins, 2001; Jenkins, 2002). Although computing education in secondary schools now receives more attention, due to advocacy (Livingstone & Hope, 2011; Furber, 2012) and revised curricula (Department for Education, 2013), there is still considerable variance in the programming ability of new undergraduate students. Many have little to no prior experience (Scott & Ghinea, 2014a; Scott, 2016). As a result, university teaching staff are required to apply pedagogies that are elastic. However, elastic pedagogies, such as soft-scaffolding (Scott, 2013), are non-trivial to implement in large classes. This means that it is difficult to provide enough challenge to maintain some students' interest while also being accessible enough to avoid intimidating others, and even more so when diagnosing student setbacks and implementing targeted interventions.
To this end, the authors explore practical approaches to diagnosis and intervention in large introductory programming classes. Firstly, using robot challenges and games, such as Lego Mindstorms, SpaceChem and Blockly, as a proxy measures for computational thinking (Zarb & Siegel, 2016; Scott, 2016). Secondly, using psychometric instruments on SoScience to evaluate key variables such as: self-concept; mindset; and anxiety (Scott & Ghinea, 2014b); as well as learning style (Alshaigy et al, 2015). Thirdly, using Socrative to apply peer instruction methods (Porter, Zingaro & Lister, 2014) to identify key areas of difficulty, such as assignment (Bornat, Dehnadi & Simon, 2008), as early as possible. Such data can be used to diagnose key issues and better inform teaching assistants on in-lab support, the design of peer-review activities, as well as CPD (continuing personal development) activities in small-group tutorials. While the validity and reliability of these approaches remains under investigation by the authors (c.f. Tew & Dorn, 2013), initial student and staff feedback suggests the approaches are useful.
Alshaigy, B., Kamal, S., Mitchell, F., Martin, C. & Aldea, A. (2015) PILeT: An Interactive Learning Tool to Teach Python. Proceedings of the 10th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education. November 9-11, 2015, London, UK. ACM. pp. 76-79.
Bornat, R., Dehnadi, S. & Simon, S. (2008) Mental Models, Consistency and Programming Aptitude. Proceedings of the 10th Australasian Computing Education Conference, 53-61.
Department for Education (2013) National Curriculum in England: Computing Programmes of Study. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study (Accessed 30th October, 2016)
Furber, S. (2012) Shut Down or Restart? The Way Forward for Computing in UK Schools. The Royal Society, London, UK.
Jenkins, T. (2001) Teaching Programming: A Journey from Teacher to Motivator. Proceedings of the 2nd Annual HEA Conference for the ICS Learning and Teaching Support Network, 53-58.
Jenkins, T. (2002) On the Difficulty of Learning to Program. Proceedings of the 3rd Annual HEA Conference for the ICS Learning and Teaching Support Network, 1-8.
Livingstone, I. & Hope, A. (2011) Next Gen: Transforming the UK into the World's Leading Talent Hub for the Video Games and Visual Effects Industries. NESTA. London, UK.
Porter, L., Zingaro, D. & Lister, R. (2014) Predicting Student Success using Fine Grain Clicker Data. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference on International Computing Education Research. August 11-13, 2014, Glasgow, Scotland. ACM. pp. 51-58.
Scott, M.J. (2016) Games and Game Jams: An Employability-First Approach to Educating Programmers. Proceedings of the 4th HEA Conference on Learning and Teaching in STEM Disciplines. January 28-29, 2016, Nottingham, UK. HEA.
Scott, M.J. & Ghinea, G. (2014a) On the Domain-Specificity of Mindsets: The Relationship between Aptitude Beliefs and Programming Practice. IEEE Transactions on Education 57(3): 169-174.
Scott, M.J. & Ghinea, G. (2014b) Measuring Enrichment: The Assembly and Validation of an Instrument to Assess Student Self-Beliefs in CS1. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference on International Computing Education Research. August 11-13, 2014, Glasgow, Scotland. ACM. pp. 123-130.
Scott, M.J. & Ghinea, G. (2013) Educating Programmers: A Reflection on Barriers to Deliberate Practice\". Proceedings of the 2nd HEA Conference on Learning and Teaching in STEM Disciplines. April 17-18, 2013, Birmingham, UK. HEA. pp. 028P.
Tew, A. & Dorn, A. (2013) The Case for Validated Tools in Computing Education Research. IEEE Computer 46(9): 60-66.
Zarb, M. & Siegel, A. (2016) Facilitating first year student transitions into HE computing using LEGO Mindstorms. Proceedings of the 4th HEA Conference on Learning and Teaching in STEM Disciplines. January 28-29, 2016, Nottingham, UK. HEA.
Developing Responsive Personalised Learning through Live Project Integrative Assessments
Oxford Brookes University
This paper describes an innovative approach to assessments that was adopted for MSc. eBusiness programme using live projects (projects provided by clients/businesses) to meet the learning outcomes of all compulsory modules on the programme.
This approach not only provides students with a holistic understanding of the programme contents but places them in a better position for employment. Students are provided a professional eCommerce business environment where they work with clients to deliver real outcomes by applying the skills that they have acquired.
This paper discusses how student learning takes place in such environment, where students are at the forefront of their learning. It discusses the partnership between academics, students and clients and the teacher/learner dynamics of responsive personalised learning.
Furthermore, it provides practitioners with a framework of responsive personalised learning using live project integrative assessment teaching model explaining the rationale, design and organisation of teaching and assessment within a live project context. Advantages and disadvantages of adopting such an approach are explored with some advice for other practitioners who wish to try this approach.
They couldn't be more different: Non-STEM novices' experiences in a new discipline
University of Kent
The Year in Computing is a free-standing, self-contained programme, offered by the School of Computing at the University of Kent (https://www.cs.kent.ac.uk/ug/year-in-computing.html). It is aimed at undergraduate students from any discipline other than computing who may take their Year in Computing between Stage 2 and 3 of their degree, or after Stage 3. During the year, students work exclusively within the School of Computing and are taught as a single cohort.
The programme is currently in its first year and brings together students from a great variety of different disciplinary backgrounds, from Archaeology to Chemistry. The initial cohort also has a high number of students from traditionally underrepresented groups in computing. (About 40% of the students in the programme are women.) As entry to the programme is dependent only on success as a student to date - and not on specific disciplinary knowledge - many of the students in the programme are non-STEM novices in computing.
At application, they expressed different motivations for enrolling in the programme: some were interested in the subject matter of computing; others wanted to do a year in another discipline to challenge themselves academically; still others were interested to participate in the programme to broaden their skill set; a common motivation was to enhance employability.
Within this student body we are interested in using both narrative and traditional qualitative methods to examine
the effect of students' home discipline on their experience studying computing,
the transfer of metacognitive skills (of being a 'good student') across disciplinary contexts,
the curricular and pedagogical adaptations made by staff in respect of students' diverse disciplinary backgrounds, and
the longitudinal effect of the programme on students' experience after graduation.
In this joint talk with Sally Fincher, we will present initial experiences and preliminary findings from the first term of the programme.
Computing Student Awareness of Open Source Software
Birmingham City University
Open source software is an increasingly common component in modern information technology. Its prevalence within the Internet of Things and cloud services suggests this popularity should grow even further. But how much does a computing student know about open source software? With little mainstream media attention and increasingly partisan input into academic curricula from computing vendors, this topic is easy to overlook. In this preliminary study, computing students at a UK university were surveyed to elicit their level of understanding of, and attitudes to open source software. The results suggest that while there is some awareness of the phenomena, knowledge is fairly superficial. The results also show that students' awareness of open source usage is relatively limited. The study then goes on to summarise student perceptions of open source regarding ease of use, quality, reliability and other factors that may impact technology adoption decisions. The initial study concludes that it may be beneficial to address this topic in academic curricula to allow students to fully appreciate the benefits and drawbacks open source, and the breadth of resources currently available. Finally, a summary of work in progress will be presented, including a larger survey of open source awareness amongst University students and a before-and-after view of whether teaching topics related to open source impacts student perceptions.
Making Professionalism Visible in HE Computer Science Curriculum
Keogh (2013) "..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, concrete object which one can see, hear or touch, it is a philosophically socially constructed ideal. The foundations of this underpinning philosophy were constituted by the dominant professions of law and medicine. A simple operational definition is that professionalism is the behaviour of a professional within a profession; a profession being an occupation that requires a high level of skill and understanding, usually necessitating formal qualifications from an accrediting HE body and also the regulatory body's Codes of Practice. In this sense any transgression from those standards would mean a member was by definition unprofessional or not behaving in a professional manner."
We cannot require our graduate students to be a member of a professional body, but it is a requirement by the BCS that we make visible the teaching and learning of professionalism in the curriculum. This BCS objective is more easily achieved if we have distinct professionalism subjects visible across a degree course, but many academics favour the scattering of professionalism within subjects. All of these debates can be a distraction as the main objective, it is purported, should be to focus on the student evidence that they have committed to be a professional, this can require an attitude shift. We can teach skills and impart knowledge but attitude can only be achieved by adoption. This research study examined the ways in which professionalism, as a concept can be embedded in the curriculum, therefore be more explicit in practical and theoretical subjects of computing science and thus allow opportunities for students to adopt good practice.
Keogh, S. (2013) Clinical Professional Practice. In: Hayes, C. (ed.) Clinical Professional Practice for Podiatric Medicine. UK: M. & K. Publishing.
Professional Ethics in Education: the need for radical change!
The wide spectrum of the computing industry and related societal issues facing future practitioners continues as we live in an experimental age of new technologies; the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE), with intelligent machines and superintelligence, and ehealth to name a few, and with these technologies there are new emerging ethical and moral issues that reach deeper than surface perception.
The challenges for teaching students professional ethics is not new; measures have been taken but has this problem been adequately addressed? What has happened over the last 20 years?
The following claim was made in 1991 and have we improved since?
"undergraduate programs should prepare graduates to understand the field of computing,
both as an academic discipline and as a profession within the context of a larger society" 
Have we progressed in the teaching of these issues when students continue to ask; "why do I need to know about this stuff?"
What answers do we give to students who ask this question; are they the right answers?
What does the curricula cover and is it effective?
Is there the right motivation, attitude and engagement with students?
Steps need to be taken in the education of the future practitioners, we need strategies in the teaching in Higher Education to allow critical, reflective perspective for students to understand the issues they will face to mediate between moving forward with technology and the societal consequences. Can we ensure that students of today will be prepared to acknowledge and consider the potential unintended outcomes with their design, development and implementation?
It is important to investigate and improve current educational models to enable quality values to be built into the student's learning experience. Education has to be the driver for change!
The presentation will explore current practices and research, and suggest possible solutions to address these issues and promote discussion.
 "Computing Curricula 1991: a Summary of the ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Curriculum Task Force report," Communications of the ACM, vol.34, no. 6, June 1991, pages 69-80.
Using Lego Serious Play and Multimedia Blogs to Stimulate Effective Reflective Practice
Sheffield Hallam University
An innovative approach has been taken in the design of the foundation year for a new Extended Degree in Computing, whereby assessment is by competencies in a 120 credit module. The students need to pass 40 competencies to pass. In order to pass a competency they may have to demonstrate this first in class to the tutor where there is a practical element, and in addition the students are required to write a reflective blog post about each competency.
This paper will discuss how the use of Lego Serious Play was used first of all as a means to develop the students' communication skills and to explore effective teamwork and personal skills. The students are encouraged to draw, mind map, take photos or video of any aspect of their learning, and to use these within their reflective multimedia blog posts.
An introduction to reflective practice used the 'what - so what - now what' as a starting point; considered how reflective practice is used by the military who routinely conduct after-action reviews; and then how Gibbs six point reflection cycle can provide trigger points for reflective writing. This provided a pedagogical foundation for why reflection was used, but more importantly for the students it provided why it was beneficial to them both in academia and in preparation for placement or graduate employment.
An abundance of research has highlighted that communication is a skill that all graduates need to demonstrate, and is one our Computing graduates most often need to develop. The outcomes of the blogs to date have demonstrated that allowing students to take a more creative approach to expressing themselves has helped them to become more confident in reflective practice and articulation of their learning.
Changing the way computing students think about employability
Linking employability to established learning theory within a computing curriculum is a challenge for any organisation and applications of learning theory to employer based scenarios are well documented (Lester and Costley, 2010). One approach that can be taken is to apply soft systems thinking (Checkland, 1981) to employability skills. This established methodology provides a schematic for problem solving ‘soft, fuzzy edged’ problems which are, in this scenario, the teaching and acquisition of employability skills to computer science students. The Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) framework can be utilised effectively to deliver employability skills to these students and also introduce them to a different way of thinking about how their degree programme responds to society's wider needs rather than just the technological ones. Every student is different, and their individual learning styles should be acknowledged, particularly when addressing
curriculum demands that seem to them to be outside of what their degree programmere presents. Consequently these skills cannot be taught easily (Lester and Cotley, 2010) regardless of the extensive research drivers from both the literature and the employers being insistent upon this becoming part of a university degree programme. This subsequent conflict of opinion gives universities a difficult challenge when attempting to embed employability within a taught curriculum. SSM is one effective approach that can be a bridge to useful learning gains.
Towards more design in the CS curriculum using the Five Design-Sheet sketching methodology
When students are faced with an assignment, they are often too keen to start coding at the expense of thinking and considering the problem in greater detail. While low fidelity methods such as sketching can help users, students find these techniques unscripted and unplanned. Students require more formal methods, such that they can work through different ideas in a systematic way. We have been developing, and using, a sketching based method in our teaching that provides a defined structure. Our Five Design-Sheet (FdS) method to help students sketch alternative ideas, work through appropriate solutions, before creating a realization sketched-design that they can then implement. The FdS methodology contains five sheets; each sheet has five parts. Sheet 1 is the brainstorming sheet where users sketch components of the ideas and work through potential solutions. At the end of the first sheet they should have a good idea of three different (yet possible) solutions. They expand upon these three ideas on sheets 2,3 and 4. Sketching the layout of the tool, expand interaction components, detail the key feature of the tool, and then discuss positives and negatives of the tool. We have used the Five Design-Sheet method over the past 5 years, and for over 500 students, and is starting to be used by other Universities. In this presentation, we share our experiences with this method, and explain how we use the methodology in our courses. We describe how we have used it for students on our Undergraduate Computer Science course, especially those on a second year Web Design module, third year Computer Graphics module, and the final year Dissertation module.
Virtualisation for teaching data science at a distance
The Open University
The Computing department at the Open University recently developed a new module on data management and analysis. Inspired by the opportunities presented by increasing availability of open data, we designed the module from the perspective of using data to extract value and insight, and data analysis should focus on finding evidence-based answers to questions. To achieve this, students explore a range of open-licence real-world datasets using a range of analytical tools and database technologies. The module is assessed with a report identifying a pertinent question for a given scenario, and demonstrating how appropriate data storage and analysis techniques can help answer that question.
This raised several difficulties for distance learning:
The module requires students to use a wide range of data analysis and visualization software, as well as various database technologies. However, distance students do not have a standard work environment, including different releases of both OS/X and Microsoft Windows.
Data investigations require an environment which allows students to demonstrate their mastery of both technical skills and discursive content.
Our chosen solutions were:
To virtualise the complete software environment, allowing us to ship a single platform containing the scientific python stack along with two database environments to all students, regardless of their choice of personal computing device.
The use of Jupyter notebooks; an interactive web-based environment allowing integration of explanatory text, code and visualisations.
We will report on our use of these technologies to support student learning of this topic. In particular, we will focus on the benefits of virtualization to student support, by standardizing on a single platform and environment. We will also highlight the benefits of Jupyter notebooks as a teaching tool for data-science oriented software skills, and as a presentation tool providing students with a medium to integrate technical analyses with discursive work.
The role of placement in the narratives of computing graduates
Edinburgh Napier University
Work placements and internships are included in university courses to improve students' employability, as well as for related reasons, such as improving skills and confidence. Placements and internships were highlighted in the 2016 Shadbolt Review of Computer Science Degree Accreditation and Graduate Employability - indeed the second recommendation of the review was "extending and promoting work experience" . Evidence of positive outcomes from work experience are listed in the report and elsewhere, however not all students enjoy equality of access to work placements. Since 2010, over 4000 computing students have registered to search for placements with e-Placement Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Funding Council to work with employers to create paid work opportunities for computing students studying at any Scottish university or college. We designed a study to explore how students construct narratives as graduates with a view to considering the impact of work placement on their self-identification and graduate careers. The study was designed to explore the experiences of all students who registered and have now graduated - whether or not they did a placement. Initial perspectives were gathered via an online questionnaire in October 2016. The questionnaire covered demographic information, with a view to revealing some influence of students' backgrounds on the take-up and completion of placements together with participants' early career paths. A second phase will conduct working life narratives through semi-structured interviews. The overall aim of the study is to provide valuable information, to policy makers, academics, students, and employers, to improve the promotion and implementation of placements; but also to surface any real or perceived barriers to engaging with placement and other forms of work experience in meaningful ways. We will present initial findings from the study.
Embedding Cybersecurity in the Computer Science Curriculum
University of Sunderland
University of Warwick
It is recognised that there is a large skills gap in cybersecurity and that employers are not able to fill all their graduate positions in cybersecurity. Universities in the UK are graduating students on courses with a significant amount of ethical hacking, generating many graduates who are able to target and abuse systems, yet many Computing Science graduates do not understand how and why Cybersecurity and resilience are just as, if not more, important.
An initiative was established in 2013 by (ISC)2, CPHC and the Cabinet Office to examine embedding Cybersecurity into undergraduate degrees. The outcome was the production of reference guidelines “Cybersecurity Principles and Learning Outcomes”. Publication was followed by regional roadshows to present the guidelines, rationale and examples of implementation in the Spring of 2016, followed by sessions at both CPHC annual conference in April and HEA in June.
The next step was to widen and deepen support for the embedding process, by creating a community to share best practice, overcome implementation barriers and provide materials and guidance for those who need it, including a resource library full of example pedagogic interventions that can be adapted for different scenarios within each institution.
The feedback from the various events identified the importance of cybersecurity but also the hurdles to be addressed in embedding cybersecurity in the CS curriculum, including a lack of: teaching capacity, understanding of available resources, established assessment criteria, and the like.
The current phase of the project includes a number of activities including: how to address hurdles; the development of curriculum linking to other initiatives including HEA cybersecurity projects, GCHQ accreditation scheme, and the government Cyber Skills working party; production of supporting materials – video, teaching resources, case studies and scenarios, and assessments and establishing Communities of Practice.
Computing Projects for facilitating Teaching in Higher Education
Sheffield Hallam University
Different socio-technical factors characterize how Computing techniques and approaches are implemented in the teaching process in Higher Education. In the Computer Sciences, these factors are more obvious in the way technology is presented to the students. But other barriers affect the success of the educational process. At Sheffield Hallam University, several projects have evolved that explore the culture of Open Source and Creative Commons to facilitate and improve teaching. The first of these is using Open Data in assessment. Open Data aims at facilitating public access to data; we use it to expose learners to a rich variety of both obvious and not-so obvious knowledge, broadening the range of their experience. Next, the Open Piping Project can be understood as open processes for Open Data: a web-based, graphical functional programming environment for Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) and data processing applications. Its end-users define services by combining graphical blocks; the set of primitive functions which determine available blocks is customizable. Open-source code, interoperability standards, and ease of use are integral to its approach. Open piping allows the introduction of the users to a range of programming techniques in a graphical way and this allows users with minimum or without programming backgrounds to comprehend complex programming concepts. A third project is the use of SQLite to automatically assess students' SQL: an environment analyses the user's SQL statements by executing them and provides feedback. Such systems are not new, but the use of SQLite simplifies deployment, which greatly facilitates sharing the technology as Open Source code. Our last project, still in infancy, is to use the version and permission control tools developed for Open source code to share, update and diversify teaching materials. We are convinced that the 'Open Culture' born in online communities offers valuable lessons in education.
Keywords: Education, Open Source, Open Data, Assessment, SQL, Functional Programming
Teaching programming and data analysis with a MOOC
The Open University
The 4-week MOOC "Learn to Code for Data Analysis" on Futurelearn is a hands-on course that introduces programming and shows how to access open data, clean and analyse it, and produce simple visualisations. The course uses Python, the pandas data analysis library, and the browser-based Jupyter Notebooks as the programming environment. The notebook style allows us to weave explanations, code, and the corresponding results in an interactive document where students do the many exercises. Each weekly project (based on real data from the WHO, UN, World Bank and Weather Underground) is written up in a notebook that can be modified by learners and shared publicly.
In this talk we summarise the pedagogical approach taken, and compare it to Merrill's First Principles of Instruction. We comment on the advantages and disadvantages of the software used, in particular the notebook environment, and difficulties felt by learners. We muse on the highlights and low points of forum discussions. We synthesize lessons learned, and reflect on the limitations of MOOCs for practical teaching and assessment of programming.
Success in CS education: the challenges of keeping students
University of Hull
Recent reports on attainment and retention in Higher Education across disciplines (Woodfield, 2014) have highlighted Computer Science as standing out, with the second worst performance of all disciplines in terms of attainment, and the worst for retention. Concerns about employability in STEM and in Computer Science led to the Shadbolt (2015) report, considering the role of accreditation on employability.
Whilst the changes in pre-university computing education offer longer term change - with the broader inclusion of technical aspects of computer science within all levels of schooling - these also raise new challenges for universities that have not historically required prior computing experience. The challenge of how to manage a binary cohort, along with the nature of the discipline, creates new questions for Computer Science at university.
Given the crucial role of computing for commerce and industry, and the pervasive nature of computing across society, Computer Science is a critical subject. This talk will consider some of the issues underlying the exceptional nature of Computer Science, and some of the potential ways to address this through course content and wider amelioration of some of the problems, for example through developing social communities amongst students (Gordon, 2015) and improving their behaviours through the content and design of assessments.
Gordon, N., 2015. Issues in retention and attainment in Computer Science. The Higher Education Academy, March. Online at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resource/issues-retention-and-attainment-computer-science (accessed 30 Sept 2016).
Shadbolt, N. (2015) Unemployment among computer science graduates - what does the data say? [Internet]. Available from: http://blog.hefce.ac.uk/2015/07/08/unemployment-among-computer-science-graduates-what-does-the-data-say/ [Accessed 7 January 2016].
Woodfield, R. (2014) Undergraduate Retention and Attainment Across the Disciplines [Internet]. Available from: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/node/10293 [Accessed 15 June 2015]