In the liminal space: software design as a threshold skill

Lynda A Thomas, Jonas Boustedt, Anna Eckerdal, Robert McCartney, Jan Erik Moström, Kate Sanders, Carol Zander

Abstract


In previous work we proposed the idea of ‘threshold skills’ as a complement to threshold concepts. The definition of threshold concepts assumes that theoretical knowledge is paramount: gaining the understanding of particular concepts irreversibly transforms the learners. We noted, however, that mastering computing, like many disciplines, requires learning a combination of concepts and skills, and we suggested that this required further investigation.

 

In this paper we examine the activity of designing software as a possible example of such a threshold skill. We looked at 35 software designs collected from students nearing graduation in computing courses, and see many of the characteristics of threshold skill and also of students being in liminal space. A close examination of the students’ designs leads to some useful implications for teaching this fundamental activity.


Full Text:

PDF

References


Boustedt, J., Eckerdal, A., McCartney, R., Moström, J. E., Ratcliffe, M., Sanders, K., & Zander, C. (2007). Threshold concepts in computer science: do they exist and are they useful? In Proceedings of the 38th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education,7-11 March 2007, pp. 504-508. Covington, KY: USA

Box, I. (2009).Toward an understanding of the variation in approaches to analysis and design. Computer Science Education, 19(2), 93–109.

Eckerdal, A., McCartney, R., Moström, J. E., Ratcliffe, M., & Zander, C. (2006). Can graduating students design software systems? In Proceedings of the 37th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 1-5 March 2006, pp. 403-407. Houston,TX: USA.

Flanagan, M.T. (2012). Threshold Concepts: Undergraduate Teaching, Postgraduate Training and Professional Development: A short introduction and bibliography. Retrieved from http://www.ee.ucl.ac.uk/~mflanaga/thresholds.html.

Loftus, C., Thomas, L., & Zander, C. (2011). Can graduating students design: revisited. In Proceedings of the 42nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 9-12 March 2011, pp. 105-110. Dallas, TX: USA.

McCartney, R., Boustedt, J., Eckerdal, A., Moström, J. E., Sanders, K., Thomas, L., & Zander, C. (2009). Liminal spaces and learning computing, European Journal of Engineering Education, 34(4), 383-391.

Norman, D. A. (1990). The Design of Everyday Things. Doubleday, New York.

Norvig, P. (2001). Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years. Retrieved from http://norvig.com/21-days.htm, September 28, 2014.

Oxford English Dictionary Online. (2016). Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/

Rountree, J., & Rountree, N. (2009). Issues Regarding Threshold Concepts in Computer Science. In Proceedings of the Eleventh Australasian Conference on Computing Education, (ACE ’09), 19-23 January 2009, pp. 139-145. Wellington: New Zealand.

Sanders, K., Boustedt, J., Eckerdal, A., McCartney, R., Moström, J. E., Thomas, L,. & Zander, C. (2012). Threshold Concepts and Threshold Skills in Computing. In Proceedings of the ninth annual international conference on international computing education research (ICER ’12), 9-11 September 2012, pp. 23-30. Auckland, New Zealand.

Shinners-Kennedy, D. (2008). The Everydayness of Threshold Concepts: State as an Example from Computer Science. In R. Land, J. H. F. Meyer, & J. Smith (Eds.), Threshold Concepts within the Disciplines, pp. 119-128. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam.

Sorva, J. 2010. Reflections on threshold concepts in computer programming and beyond. In Proceedings of the 10th Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research (Koli Calling '10), 28-31 October 2010, pp. 21-30. Koli: Finland.

Thomas, L., Boustedt, J., Eckerdal, A., McCartney, R., Moström, J. E., Sanders, K., & Zander, C. (2012). A Broader Threshold: including skills as well as concepts in computing education. In Threshold Concepts: from personal practice to communities of practice. Proceedings of the National Academy’s Sixth Annual Conference and the Fourth Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference, 27-29 June 2012. Trinity College, Dublin: Ireland.

Thomas, L., Eckerdal, A., McCartney, R., Moström, J. E., Sanders, K., & Zander, C. (2014). Graduating Students’ Designs – Through a Phenomenographic Lens. In Proceedings of the tenth annual conference on international computing education research (ICER’14), 11-13 August 2014, pp.91-98. Glasgow: U.K.

Zander, C., Boustedt, J., Eckerdal, A., McCartney, R., Moström, J. E., Ratcliffe, M., and Sanders, K. (2008). Threshold concepts in computer science: a multi-national investigation. In R. Land, J. H. F. Meyer, & J. Smith (Eds.), Threshold Concepts within the Disciplines, pp. 105-118. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.