CSAB and ABET/CAC Criteria Committee Survey

March 11, 2013 at 1:48 am 1 comment

At the ACM Education Council meeting this last weekend, I heard about changes in the accreditation criteria being considered for computing disciplines (e.g., Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Technology).  The committee has asked for feedback on several issues that they’re considering, e.g., how much mathematics do students really need in computing?

That question, in particular, is one that I’m reading about in The Computer Boys Take Over by Nathan Ensmenger.  Ensmenger tells the story of how mathematics got associated with preparation of programmers (not computer scientists).  Mathematics showed up on the early aptitude tests that industry created as a way of figuring out who might be a good programmer.  But Ensmenger points out that mathematic ability only correlated with performance in academic courses, and did not correlated with performance as a programmer.  It’s not really clear how much math is really useful (let alone necessary) for being a programming.  Mathematics got associated with programming decades ago, and it remains there today.

The Committee is inviting feedback on this and other issues that they’re considering:

This survey was developed by a joint committee from CSAB and the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission, and is designed to obtain feedback on potential changes on the ABET Computing Accreditation Criteria.  We are looking for opinions about some of the existing ideas under discussion for change, as well as other input regarding opportunities to improve the existing criteria.

Respondents to the survey may be computing education stakeholders in any computing sub discipline, including computer science, information systems, information technology, and many others. Stakeholders may include professionals in the discipline, educators, and/or employers of graduates from computing degree programs.

The survey may be completed online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/caccriteria2013.

Please send inquiries to csab@csab.org.

Thank you for your participation.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. rademi  |  March 11, 2013 at 8:46 am

    1) What is meant by computing? It’s a broad field (akin to literacy) and some elements make heavy use of math while others do not make use of those elements. Symptoms of math being important include resource heavy contexts and applications with a mathematical focus.

    2) What kinds of math expertise were involved in the tests? How was it measured?

    3) What kinds of computing expertise were being tested for? (Graphics rendering requires a largely different set of skills than, for example, database normalization.)

    For what it’s worth, it’s relatively simple to set up a differential equation approximation in a computer program, without recognizing that that’s what’s being done (just some simple loops that increment stuff, for example). But this does not mean that the vocabulary normally taught in a differential equations class is particularly useful to someone building that kind of program.

    Consider also that some important abilities of a computer programmer (the ability to collaborate, for example) are strictly discouraged in many math classes (“that’s cheating”). So we should probably expect students with a strong, academic math background to be working under a handicap, in programming contexts.


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