Join us to discuss teaching team collaboration on Monday 10th June at 2pm BST

CC licensed Dream image by flaticon.com

Teamwork makes the dreamwork, or so the cliché goes. But how do you teach and assess it? Teaching students to collaborate in teams (agile or otherwise) is notoriously problematic, from motivating the free-riders to restraining the self-appointed dictators, the dreamwork can rapidly descend into nightmares over who deserves the credit. Join us to discuss how to develop students confidence and abilities to collaborate in engineering teams, from a paper published at ITiCSE. [1] From the Abstract

We had an outdated, unsuitable pair of courses covering software engineering over an academic year, which were rewritten last summer. Out went the plan-driven project approach of GANNT charts, and a belief that ‘better estimates’ would save the day. In came a lightweight focus on a mix of extreme programming and scrum to incrementally, and iteratively build products. The classroom changed too. Out went lecture slides in the classroom, plus self-directed pick and choose practical sessions. In came video-led lectures based on the pandemic experience, experiential learning, and more suitable practical sessions to guide students in what they need know to build their product prototypes.The initial results suggest we are headed in the right direction. It still needs more work, but shows students are developing products more confidently as teams of students.

We’ll be joined by Bruce Scharlau, author of the paper, who’ll give us a five minute lightning talk to kick-off our discussion about teaching team collaboration. All welcome, joining details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us/

References

  1. Scharlau, Bruce (2023). Being Agile in the Software Engineering Classroom: Using Agile Approaches Instead of Plan-driven Approaches. Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE), pages 583–584, DOI: 10.1145/3587103.3594154

Join us to discuss using agile group projects to develop more employable graduates on Monday 13th May at 2pm BST

CC licensed agile image from flaticon.com

Employers often love academic group projects while students often loathe them. How can Agile group projects be used to develop students skills, both hard technical skills and softer people skills? Join us on Monday 13th May at 2pm BST to discuss a paper on this published by Jordan Allison and his collaborators at the University of Gloucestershire and the University of Bristol in the Journal of Further and Higher Education. [1] From the abstract:

This article presents the usage of Integrated Course Design (ICD) in the design and evaluation of applying agile methodologies within an undergraduate module of study to foster the development of computer science students employability skills. Undergraduate programs of computer science typically follow traditional educational methods which can lead to students unable to connect knowledge learned in class to actual situations and students are often assessed individually, whereas collaborative group projects are more akin to industry practice. The teaching experience reported gives students the opportunity to relate concepts learnt in class to a practical group-based project. Students must meet the requirements of a ‘client’ who will provide feedback and additional challenges for students while following the Agile framework SCRUM. Positive student feedback and module grades 7.70% higher than the department average over a four year period indicates the teaching structure and assessment presented is an effective method to foster the development of technical and soft skills of undergraduate computer science students.

We’ll be joined by the co-authors who will give us a five-minute lightning talk summary of their paper to kick-off our discussion. All welcome, joining details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us

References

  1. Jordan Allison, Abu Alam, Luke Gassmann, Gareth Nelson & Kamal Zidan (2024): Fostering the development of computer science graduate employability through agile projects, Journal of Further and Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2024.2340642

Join us to discuss developing students professional competencies in software engineering on Monday 8th April at 2pm BST (UTC +1)

Some competencies in software engineering are either difficult to teach and/or hard to measure, especially in a purely academic environment. Professional competencies in software engineering are often easier to learn in the workplace, rather than taught in a University lab, workshop or lecture theatre. What evidence can students provide of the professional competencies they develop while employed in a, workplace? Join us on Monday 8th April at 2pm BST (UTC+1) to discuss a paper on this published in this years SIGCSE technical symposium (sigcse2024.sigcse.org) by Matthew Barr, Oana Andrei, Alistair Morrison and Syed Waqar Nabi at the University of Glasgow [1]. From the abstract:

Competencies may be defined as the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions that an individual is required to demonstrate in order to be considered professionally competent. Competency-based education has long been a feature of professional degree programs, but the discipline of Computing Science has only recently begun to embrace competencies as a means of structuring or evaluating students’ learning. Meanwhile, the practice of work-based learning – also well-established in other professional disciplines– has become more prevalent in Computing Science education, with increasing emphasis placed on work-based modes of learning, such as internships and apprenticeships. In this paper, we examine how students enrolled on a degree-level apprenticeship in Software Engineering have developed their professional competencies in the workplace. The paper is based on an analysis of 38 student assignments, wherein apprentices were asked to identify the competencies they have demonstrated, with reference to a portfolio of work. The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence and Commitment, which outlines the competencies required for certification as an Incorporated Engineer, provided the necessary framework. Competencies relating to communication and inter-personal skills were among those most often cited by apprentices, with competencies relating to knowledge and understanding and design and development systems also featuring prominently. Competencies relating to responsibility, management, or leadership were less prevalent, with professional commitment proving to be the least commonly cited category of competencies. We provide examples of how apprentices claim to have demonstrated each competency, and discuss the implications of these findings for competency-based learning in Computing Science education

We’ll be joined by the co-authors who will give us a five-minute lightning talk summary of their paper to kick-off our discussion. All welcome, joining details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us

References

  1. Matthew Barr, Oana Andrei, Alistair Morrison, Syed Waqar Nabi (2024) The Development of Students’ Professional Competencies on a Work-Based Software Engineering Program, SIGCSE 2024: Proceedings of the 55th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, Pages 81–87, DOI:10.1145/3626252.3630944

CC licensed image from flaticon.com

Join us to discuss women’s elective choices in Computing on Monday 4th March at 2pm GMT

How can we increase participation of women in computing? How can we recruit and retain more women to study computing? Curricula are an obvious place to start. Understanding student motivations for their learning choices can help educators develop more effective programs of study. Join us to discuss a paper modeling women’s elective choices in computing by Steven Bradley, Miranda C. Parker, Rukiye Altin, Lecia Barker, Sara Hooshangi, Thom Kunkeler, Ruth G. Lennon, Fiona McNeill, Julià Minguillón, Jack Parkinson, Svetlana Peltsverger and Naaz Sibia from the Proceedings of the 2023 Working Group Reports on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE). From the abstract:

Evidence-based strategies suggest ways to reduce the gender gap in computing. For example, elective classes are valuable in enabling students to choose in which directions to expand their computing knowledge in areas aligned with their interests. The availability of electives of interest may also make computing programs of study more meaningful to women. However, research on which elective computing topics are more appealing to women is often class or institution specific. In this study, we investigate differences in enrollment within undergraduate-level elective classes in computing to study differences between women and men. The study combined data from nine institutions from both Western Europe and North America and included 272 different classes with 49,710 student enrollments. These classes were encoded using ACM curriculum guidelines and combined with the enrollment data to build a hierarchical statistical model of factors affecting student choice. Our model shows which elective topics are less popular with all students (including fundamentals of programming languages and parallel and distributed computing), and which elective topics are more popular with women students (including mathematical and statistical foundations, human computer interaction and society, ethics, and professionalism). Understanding which classes appeal to different students can help departments gain insight of student choices and develop programs accordingly. Additionally, these choices can also help departments explore whether some students are less likely to choose certain classes than others, indicating potential barriers to participation in computing.

We’ll be joined by some of the co-authors of the paper who will give us a five minute lightning talk summary to kick-off our discussion. As usual we’ll be meeting on zoom, all welcome, joining details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us

References

  1. Steven Bradley, Miranda C. Parker, Rukiye Altin, Lecia Barker, Sara Hooshangi, Thom Kunkeler, Ruth G. Lennon, Fiona McNeill, Julià Minguillón, Jack Parkinson, Svetlana Peltsverger, Naaz Sibia (2023) ITiCSE-WGR ’23: Proceedings of the 2023 Working Group Reports on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, Pages 196–226, DOI:10.1145/3623762.3633497

CC licensed image via flaticon.com

Join us to discuss ten things engineers should learn about learning on Monday 5th February at 2pm GMT

See one, do one, teach one” is a popular technique for teaching surgery to medical students. It has three steps:

  • You see one: by watching it, reading about it or listening to it
  • You do one: by engineering it or making it
  • You teach one: by telling others all about it


If you’re teaching engineers, what do you need to know beyond the seeing and doing? Understanding how human memory and learning works and the differences between beginners and experts can improve your teaching. So what practical steps can engineers take to improve the training and development of other engineers? What do engineers need to know in order to improve their own learning?

Join us on Monday 5th February at 2pm GMT (UTC) for our monthly ACM SIGCSE journal club meetup on zoom to discuss a paper on this topic by Neil Brown, Felienne Hermans and Lauren Margulieux, published in (and featured on the cover of) the January issue of Communications of the ACM. [1]

We’ll be joined by the lead author, Neil Brown of King’s College London, who will give us a lightning talk summary of the paper to kick off our discussion.

All welcome, as usual, we’ll be meeting on zoom, details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us

References

  1. Neil C.C. Brown, Felienne F.J. Hermans and Lauren Margulieux (2024) 10 Things Software Developers Should Learn about Learning, Communications of the ACM, Volume 67, No. 1. DOI:10.1145/3584859 (see accompanying video at vimeo.com/885743448 )

Join us at Durham University on 5th January 2024 to discuss Computing Education Practice (CEP)

Rather than meeting online in January, we’ll be meeting in person. So join us at Durham University for the annual Computing Education Practice (CEP) conference which takes place on Friday 5th January, with a pre-conference dinner in the evening of Thursday 4th January.

Thanks to our program chair Jane Waite, general chair Ryan Crosby and program committee for organising this event.

The full conference program and registration details are available at cepconference.webspace.durham.ac.uk/programme

Join us to discuss the ability of generative AI to pass exams on 4th December at 2pm GMT

CC-licensed exam image from flaticon.com

How good is generative AI at passing exams? What does this tell us about how we could design better assessments? Join us on Monday 4th December at 2pm GMT (UTC) to discuss a paper on this by Joyce Mahon, Brian Mac Namee and Brett Becker at University College Dublin published at UKICER earlier this year. [1] From the abstract:

We investigate the capabilities of ChatGPT (GPT-4) on second level (high-school) computer science examinations: the UK A-Level and Irish Leaving Certificate. Both are national, government-set / approved, and centrally assessed examinations. We also evaluate performance differences in exams made publicly available before and after the ChatGPT knowledge cutoff date, and investigate what types of question ChatGPT struggles with.

We find that ChatGPT is capable of achieving very high marks on both exams and that the performance difference before and after the knowledge cutoff date are minimal. We also observe that ChatGPT struggles with questions involving symbols or images, which can be mitigated when in-text information ‘fills in the gaps’. Additionally, GPT-4 performance can be negatively impacted when an initial inaccurate answer leads to further inaccuracies in subsequent parts of the same question. Finally, the element of choice on the Leaving Certificate is a significant advantage in achieving a high grade. Notably, there are minimal occurrences of hallucinations in answers and few errors in solutions not involving images.

These results reveal several strengths and weaknesses of these exams in terms of how generative AI performs on them and have implications for exam design, the construction of marking schemes, and could also shift the focus of what is examined and how.

We’ll be joined by the papers lead author Joyce, who will give us a lightning talk summary of her paper to start our discussion. All welcome, as usual we’ll be meeting on zoom details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us

References

  1. Joyce Mahon, Brian MacNamee and Brett A. Becker (2023) No More Pencils No More Books: Capabilities of Generative AI on Irish and UK Computer Science School Leaving Examinations. In The United Kingdom and Ireland Computing Education Research conference (UKICER 2023), September 07–08, 2023, Swansea, Wales UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 7 pages. DOI: 10.1145/3610969.3610982

Join us to discuss the role of storytelling and drama in the lecture theatre on Monday 6th November at 2pm UTC

Theatre masks image from flaticon.com

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances. And one teacher in their time plays many parts.

As students watch academic actors enter and exit their lecture theatres on University campuses around the world, what role can drama play in their teaching and learning? How can theatre and storytelling facilitate students understanding of whatever is they are supposed to be learning?

Are we walking shadows and poor players that strut and fret our hour upon the stage, and then are heard no more? Do we tell tales like an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing? In short, how much should teachers embrace theatricality, both amateur and professional, on their respective stages? Can drama and storytelling actually improve students learning and if so, how? 🎭

Join us on Monday 6th November at 2pm UTC for our monthly ACM SIGCSE journal club meetup on zoom to discuss a paper on this topic by David Malan. [1] From the abstract

In Fall 2020, Harvard University transitioned entirely from on-campus instruction to Zoom online. But a silver lining of that time was unprecedented availability of space on campus, including the university’s own repertory theater. In healthier times, that theater would be brimming with talented artisans and weekly performances, without any computer science in sight. But with that theater’s artisans otherwise idled during COVID-19, our introductory course, CS50, had an unusual opportunity to collaborate with the same. Albeit subject to rigorous protocols, including face masks and face shields for all but the course’s instructor, along with significant social distancing, that moment in time allowed us an opportunity to experiment with lights, cameras, and action on an actual stage, bringing computer science to life in ways not traditionally possible in the course’s own classroom. Equipped with an actual prop shop in back, the team of artisans was able to actualize ideas that might otherwise only exist in slides and code. And students’ experience proved the better for it, with a supermajority of students attesting at term’s end to the efficacy of almost all of the semester’s demonstrations. We present in this work the design and implementation of the course’s theatricality along with the motivation therefor and results thereof. And we discuss how we have adapted, and others can adapt, these same moments more modestly in healthier times to more traditional classrooms, large and small.

This paper was presented at the SIGCSE 2023 Technical Symposium in Toronto, a video presentation of the paper is also available below. All welcome, as usual, we’ll be meeting on zoom, details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us

References

  1. Malan, David J. (2023). Computer Science with Theatricality: Creating Memorable Moments in CS50 with the American Repertory Theater during COVID-19. SIGCSE 2023: Proceedings of the 54th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, New York, NY, USA. DOI:10.1145/3545945.3569859 non-paywalled version at cs.harvard.edu/malan/publications/V1fp479-malan.pdf

Join us to discuss the goals and self-efficacy of students on Monday 2nd October at 2pm BST (UTC+1)

CC licensed target picture from flaticon.com

Why do some students achieve more than others? Students goals, their belief in their ability to reach those goals and their prior experience are key factors. But how do they interplay? Join us for our monthly ACM SIGCSE journal club meetup on Zoom to discuss a prize-winning paper [1] on this topic by Hannu Pesonen, Juho Leinonen, Lassi Haaranen and Arto Hellas from Aalto University in Finland and the University of Auckland. From the abstract:

We explore achievement goal orientations, self-efficacy, gender, and prior experience, and look into their interplay in order to understand their contributions to course performance. Our results provide evidence for the appropriateness of the three-factor achievement goal orientation model (performance, mastery approach, mastery avoidance) over the more pervasive four-factor model. We observe that the aspects and the model factors correlate with course achievement. However, when looking into the interplay of the aspects and the model factors, the observations change and the role of, for example, self-efficacy as an aspect contributing to course achievement diminishes. Our study highlights the need to further explore the interplay of aspects contributing to course achievement.

We’ll be joined by one of the papers co-authors, Hannu, who’ll give a lightning talk summary to kick off our discussion. This paper won a best paper award at ukicer.com this year. All welcome, meeting details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us

References

  1. Hannu Pesonen, Juho Leinonen, Lassi Haaranen, and Arto Hellas (2023) Exploring the Interplay of Achievement Goals, Self-Efficacy, Prior Experience and Course Achievement. In The United Kingdom and Ireland Computing Education Research (UKICER) conference (UKICER 2023), September 07–08, 2023, Swansea, Wales UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 7 pages. DOI: 10.1145/3610969.3611178

Join us on Monday 4th September at 2pm BST to discuss microcredentials in Higher Education

CC licensed Image by iconsax on flaticon.com

Microcredentials are mini-qualifications that allow learners to provide evidence of their broader skills alongside their traditional academic awards. How can these awards be integrated into existing educational qualifications? Join us on Monday 4th September at 2pm BST (UTC+1) to discuss a paper on this topic by Rupert Ward, Tom Crick, James H. Davenport, Paul Hanna, Alan Hayes, Alastair Irons, Keith Miller, Faron Moller, Tom Prickett and Julie Walters. From the abstract:

Employers are increasingly selecting and developing employees based on skills rather than qualifications. Governments now have a growing focus on skilling, reskilling and upskilling the workforce through skills-based development rather than qualifications as a way of improving productivity. Both these changes are leading to a much stronger interest in digital badging and micro-credentialing that enables a more granular, skills-based development of learner-earners. This paper explores the use of an online skills profiling tool that can be used by designers, educators, researchers, employers and governments to understand how badges and micro-credentials can be incorporated within existing qualifications and how skills developed within learning can be compared and aligned to those sought in job roles. This work, and lessons learnt from the case study examples of computing-related degree programmes in the UK, also highlights exciting opportunities for educational providers to develop and accommodate personalised learning into existing formal education structures across a range of settings and contexts.

We’ll be joined by Rupert Ward and some of the other co-authors of the paper who will give a five-minute lightning talk to kick-off our discussion. All welcome, as usual we’ll be meeting on Zoom, details at  sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us

References

  1. Ward, Rupert; Crick, Tom; Davenport, James H.; Hanna, Paul; Hayes, Alan; Irons, Alastair; Miller, Keith; Moller, Faron; Prickett, Tom; Walters, Julie (2023). “Using Skills Profiling to Enable Badges and Micro-Credentials to be Incorporated into Higher Education Courses”. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Ubiquity Press, Ltd. 2023 (1). DOI:10.5334/jime.807