Off to Denmark and ICER!

August 6, 2010 at 8:07 am 4 comments

I head off Saturday afternoon to ACM SIGCSE’s International Computing Education Research (ICER) Workshop, which starts Monday in Aarhus, Denmark.  The SIGCSE Doctoral Consortium and some preconference workshops are on Sunday. I’m going to be presenting a paper by Brian Dorn (and a little bit me — percentages don’t show up in the byline) on what graphics designers look for in CS Education and why they avoid CS classes.  It’s just part of his dissertation…which he’ll be defending two weeks from yesterday!  (Allison Tew defends two weeks from today!)

I’ll be attending ICER for only the first day, and in Denmark for only 40-some hours.  The timing was a bit of a train wreck.  Barb is going to an AP CS Development Team meeting Sunday through Wednesday, and then attending the Scratch conference.  This is the first week of school for our kids.  And Brian just started his new job at the University of Hartford.  We really wanted the paper presented — this year, ICER has its lowest acceptance rate yet (~30%), which raises the prestige level (which is good for Brian’s just-starting tenure case).  So, I fly out Saturday, arrive Sunday, present Monday, and return by Tuesday afternoon.  I’ll only miss filling out the first day of extra forms and buying more school supplies.

While I’m relating personal stories, I finally got rid of my Blackberry yesterday, the plans I mentioned in an earlier post.  I turned off my Exchange access right away, but Verizon wouldn’t let me turn off all 3G service while I used the Blackberry.  Finally yesterday, we hauled the family to the Verizon store to get new phones.  I got the cheapest phone I could get with a slide-out keyboard: a Samsung, with no email access without an additional fee.  Now I’ve really launched my experiment to do only on the iPad what I used to do on the Blackberry. No more email on my cellphone.  This’ll be different!

Bottomline to all of this: I don’t expect to blog much Saturday to Tuesday (and Wednesday, depending on how bad the jet lag).

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. owen astrachan  |  August 6, 2010 at 8:29 am

    There was a presentation at Snowbird this year about fighting back against the idea you’re espousing above where “the low acceptance rate increases the prestige”. Measure the quality of the work, not some veiled “acceptance rate metric”.

    I think this is a great idea, not an easy thing to do, but the letters people write commenting on work done for tenure cases should (arguably) carry more weight than the number of papers appearing at a conference. In other disciplines there are hundreds of poster presentations and folks get together with lots and lots of presentations. Will ICER go the way of FOCS/STOC which were called out at Snowbird (by some, not by all) as venues were attendance is down over time as non-presenter attendance has fallen off because of specialized conferences.

    Food for thought? In Denmark?

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  August 6, 2010 at 10:48 am

      I’d rather say that I’m “recognizing” than “espousing.” I want work judged for its quality, but recognize that the acceptance rate (especially for a field you don’t know and a conference you don’t know, as is often the case when a CS department is judging a CS Ed or ed tech or learning sciences researcher) will be used as first pass triage. Past ICERs have had acceptance rates around 50%, which I think says something more about the health of the field than of the work presented. When the acceptance rate is only 30% and the same number of papers are accepted, then the field is growing, and you’re in the part that’s judged to be in the higher quality. I’m certainly not espousing that we continue the trend and only accept 10% next year! ICER should publish a wide variety of quality work, and I would hate for it to get to the FOCS/STOC or even CHI level of small acceptance rates.

  • 3. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  August 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    The Scratch conference sounds like fun, but your link to it is broken. Try removing the final “index” or adding “.php”—either will fix the link.

    Acceptance rates are a measure of quality, though not a very good one. Basically, a low acceptance rate means that a lot more people want their work to appear there than the conference has room for. If the conference is doing a poor job of selecting quality work, then people will stop wanting to go and stop submitting. If a conference is doing a good job, then more people will submit.

    Top conferences and journals in bioinformatics have acceptance rates of around 15% and regional conferences and second-tier journals around 30%. (Bottom feeders keep their acceptance rates secret.) I don’t know what the normal acceptance rates are in education conferences—this might be a good thing to report on in putting together a tenure case if the tenure committees can be expected to be similarly ignorant.


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