The proceedings are published in the ACM Digital Library
Tuesday 8th January 2019
|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:
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.
- an ongoing programme work;
- work of colleagues you wish to recognise;
- PhD projects;
- projects for which partners are sought (or requests for data
- ideas to further activity in computing education research in the UK.
Wednesday 9th January 2019
Andrew McGettrick is a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is a Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. He chaired the original UK benchmarking activities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in Computing. He was a Vice-President of the BCS for six years and was awarded the John Ivinson Medal for services to the Society in March 2012.
More recently he chaired the Education Board and Education Council of the ACM for around 10 years, and is now past-chair. His work on computing education resulted in him receiving an ACM Presidential Award in 2018; he is one of only two recipients of such an award from outside the US.
Supervisor Recommendation Tool for Computer Science Projects
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
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 . 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
- as, but even more so than, elsewhere -
there is a critical shortage of teachers who are qualified to teach
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
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
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
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
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
University of Glasgow
University of Strathclyde
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
University of Bath
University of Bath
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
The Open University
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
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
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
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
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 wide variety in students background, varying from no prior experience to extensive development practice;
- the positives and negatives of dealing with self-taught hobbyists who may developed buggy mental models of the task in hand and are not aware of the problem;
- the challenge of getting students to engage with material that includes extensive practical element;
- the atypical profile of a computing cohort, with typically 80%+ male students.
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
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.