Posts tagged ‘SIGCSE’

CS Teaching Faculty are like Tenant Farmers

There are many, many teaching jobs available in computer science right now. Scarcely a day goes by that there isn’t another ad posted in the SIGCSE Members list — sometimes for many positions at the same department. A great many of these are at Universities, with a clear statement that this is a Teaching track position, not a Tenure track position.

Many of these ads, when posted to SIGCSE Members, contain a paragraph like this (edited and hopefully anonymized):

(Highly-ranked University)’s full-time (without tenure) teaching faculty positions are called (pick one of:) Lecturers with Security of Employment, Professors of the Practice, or Teaching Professors, or Lecturers, or Instructors. These positions typically involve a teaching load of two courses each semester, advising responsibilities, and service (committee work) as well. (Highly-ranked University)’s computer science teaching faculty are NOT treated as second class citizens. We vote at faculty meetings, represent the department on university committees, and are generally well respected inside and outside the department. We currently are seeking more (see ad below).

From time to time, I write the person (almost always a teaching track faculty member) who posted the ad, to follow-up on the “NOT second class citizens” part.

  • Do teaching faculty get to serve on the hiring committee for teaching faculty? Usually yes.
  • Do teaching faculty get to serve on the hiring committee for tenure-track faculty? Usually not.  This question often results in a snort of laughter.  Why should teaching professionals be involved in hiring tenure-track faculty? That seemed obvious to me — teaching faculty are hired to be experts in teaching, and tenure-track faculty do teach.
  • Do teaching faculty serve on tenure-track promotion and tenure committees? Almost never, despite the fact that tenure track faculty are expected to teach and are supposed to be evaluated (at least in part) on that teaching. Shouldn’t professionals with expertise in teaching have a voice in evaluating teaching of tenure-track faculty?
  • Do teaching faculty have a voice/position at the Dean/Chair’s Cabinet/Executive Committee? I know of only one in the US.

Maybe I have been watching too much “Downton Abbey.” The treatment of teaching track faculty by tenure track faculty sounds like the relationship between the landed gentry and the tenant farmers. The University teaches as one of its primary roles, just as the estate survived through farming (and the sales and rent that were generated). The tenure track faculty (landed gentry) leave most of that to the teaching track faculty (tenant farmers). It’s a delegated responsibility, like custodial and lawn management services.  The teaching track faculty don’t own the department or programs (land). The tenure track faculty make the decisions about hiring and promoting the teaching track faculty. The teaching track faculty don’t make any of the decisions about tenure track faculty.  Of course, the greatest match with the analogy is that tenured faculty can’t be fired — like the landed gentry, they own their positions.  Teaching track faculty are rarely tenured.  One of the teaching faculty with whom I work has only a six month contract and can be fired with a month’s notice.

It is in our best interests for teaching track to be a profession. Teaching track faculty should be experts in teaching. Members should be expected to join professional organizations like SIGCSE (see previous post about the lack of membership in SIGCSE), to attend and present at organizational meetings, and to improve their practice. They should have a promotion path and evaluation as rigorous as the tenure-track promotion and tenure process.  I’m pleased to see these ads, because they suggest national searches for good teaching track faculty — as opposed to hiring (for example) graduate students and post-docs who don’t want to leave their home institution.

A first step towards professionalization of teaching track faculty is to treat them with the same respect as tenure-track faculty. Tenure track faculty are treated as experts in research.  Teaching track faculty should be treated as experts in teaching. If both teaching and research are important, then treat the teaching track faculty like the research faculty. There should be a comparable sense of responsibility, power, and ownership.

 

February 5, 2016 at 7:47 am 14 comments

The Inverse Lake Wobegon Effect in Learning Analytics and SIGCSE Polls

I wrote my Blog@CACM post this month about the Inverse Lake Wobegon effect (see the post here), a term that I coin in my new book (link to post about book).  The Inverse Lake Wobegon effect is where we observe a biased, privileged/elite/superior sample and act as if it is an unbiased, random sample from the overall population.  When we assume that undergraduates are like students in high school, we are falling prey to the Inverse Lake Wobegon effect.

Here’s an example from The Chronicle of Higher Education in the quote below. Looking at learning analytics from MOOCs can only tell us about student success and failure of those who sign up for the MOOC.  As we have already discussed in this blog (see post here), people who take MOOCs are a biased sample — well-educated and rich.  We can’t use MOOCs to learn about learning for those who aren’t there.

“It takes a lot of mystery out of why students succeed and why students fail,” said Robert W. Wagner, executive vice provost and dean at Utah State, and the fan of the spider graphic. “It gives you more information, and when you can put that information into the hands of faculty who are really concerned about students and completion rates and retention, the more you’re able to create better learning and teaching environments.”

Source: This Chart Shows the Promise and Limits of ‘Learning Analytics’ – The Chronicle of Higher Education

A second example: There’s a common thread of research in SIGCSE Symposium and ITICSE that uses survey data from the SIGCSE Members List as a source of information.  SIGCSE Members are elite undergraduate computer science teachers.  They are teachers who have the resources to participate in SIGCSE and the interest in doing so.  I know that at my own institution, only a small percentage (<10%) of our lecturers and instructors participate in SIGCSE.  I know that no one at the local community college’s CS department belongs to SIGCSE.  My guess is that SIGCSE Members represents less than 30% of undergraduate computer science teachers in the United States, and a much smaller percentage of computer science teachers worldwide. I don’t know if we can assume that SIGCSE Members are necessarily more expert or higher-quality.  We do know that they value being part of a professional organization for teaching, so we can assume that SIGCSE Members have an identity as a CS teacher — but that may mean that most CS teachers don’t have an identity as a CS teacher. A survey of SIGCSE Members tell us about an elite sample of undergraduate CS teachers, but not necessarily about CS teachers overall.

January 18, 2016 at 8:03 am 3 comments

EarSketch Workshop at SIGCSE 2015

I’m an advisor on the EarSketch project, and it’s really cool. Recommended.

Next month, the EarSketch team will be offering a workshop at SIGCSE in Kansas City. This is a great opportunity to learn more about EarSketch, get hands on experience with the curriculum and environment, and learn how to use EarSketch in your classroom. This year’s workshop will also offer advice on integrating EarSketch into Computer Science Principles courses, though the workshop is of relevance to anyone teaching an introductory computing course.

For more information about SIGCSE, visit http://sigcse2015.sigcse.org/index.html
To register for the workshop, please visit https://www.regonline.com/register/login.aspx?eventID=1618015&MethodId=0&EventsessionId=
Please contact Jason Freeman (jason.freeman@gatech.edu) with any questions.

SIGCSE 2015
Workshop #20: Computer Science Principles with EarSketch
Saturday, March 7th, 2015
3 pm – 6 pm

Jason Freeman, Georgia Institute of Technology
Brian Magerko, Georgia Institute of Technology
Regis Verdin, Georgia Institute of Technology

EarSketch (http://earsketch.gatech.edu) is an integrated curriculum, software toolset, audio loop library, and social sharing site that teaches computing principles through digital music composition and remixing. Attendees will learn to code in Python and/or JavaScript to place audio clips, create rhythms, and add and control effects within a multi-track digital audio workstation (DAW) environment while learning computing concepts such as variables, iteration, conditionals, strings, lists, functions, and recursion. Participants write code to make music, with a focus on popular genres such as hip hop. The agenda outlines the pedagogy of connecting musical expression to computation to broaden participation and engagement in computing; the underlying concept of thickly authentic STEAM that drives this approach; the alignment of the curriculum and learning environment with CS Principles; and basic musical concepts underlying EarSketch. The intended audience for this workshop is secondary and early post secondary CS educators. The course is of particular relevance to CS Principles teachers but also applicable to any introductory programming or computing course. No prior musical knowledge or experience is expected and no prior programming experience with Python or JavaScript is required.

February 14, 2015 at 8:18 am 1 comment

Come visit the CS Education Zoo from Steve Wolfman and Will Byrd

Post to SIGCSE-members, re-posted here with Steve’s permission.

TL;DR version: Watch Will&Steve interview interesting CS Ed folks on the CS Ed Zoo at http://webyrd.net/zoo.html.  Most recent episode with Mark Guzdial at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1oTtPECHZI

Full version:

It’s a common lament that CS education is an isolated practice. You teach in your own classroom, a colleague drops by once a year for performance review, and otherwise only your students know what you do.

We know what you’re thinking:

I wish there were a place where CS educators were kept on 24-hour public display (locked securely behind iron bars, of course).

Well, now there is!

Announcing the CS Education Zoo http://webyrd.net/zoo.html, a bi-weekly-very-ish interview series where CS educators (and people with animal-themed last names) Will Byrd and Steve Wolfman interview interesting people involved in CS education (even if they lack animal-themed last names).

So far, we’ve posted six episodes:

+ Mark Guzdial extols the power and potential of live coding (and MUCH more): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1oTtPECHZI

+ David Nolen ponders the impact of a programmer’s first language on their learning (and MUCH more): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxR-AjRZUrQ

+ Becky Bates shares how to craft a large, heterogeneous project course (and MUCH more): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QSOHDo4pVA

+ Jeff Forbes explains why “rapid feedback is better than good feedback” (and MUCH more): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJVoPE7IeaI

+ Rob Simmons discusses the subtleties of teaching formal reasoning about programming in intro courses (and MUCH more): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2xd5Bc_-Os

+ Kim Voll tells us what to tell our students interested in gaming careers (and MUCH more): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JcNHHSPMzE

And in the works: a chat with some of the people behind Hacker School.

P.S. Drop us a line (wolf@cs.ubc.ca or tweet like the cool kids apparently do to @steve_wolfman and @webyrd) if there’s some person, group, or other amorphous-but-audible entity you think we should invite!

November 11, 2014 at 8:51 am Leave a comment

The first Critical Research Review at ICER 2014

My report on ICER 2014 is at Blog@CACM here. I also participated in the post-ICER Critical Research Review or Work-in-Progress Workshop (both titles have appeared at different times). Colleen Lewis organized it, based on the “functions” peer review that Education graduate students do at Berkeley. It was great, far better than I might have guessed.

I wanted to participate, in order to support and be part of this new kind of activity at ICER. I was expecting maybe a dozen people in a room, where one at a time a person would present for 15-20 minutes and then get feedback for a few minutes. Y’know — a “workshop.” Boy, was I wrong.

Instead, Colleen broke us up into two groups of five. (The small size was critical.) All of us presented some brief paper (couple pages preferred) that everyone read beforehand. Colleen gave each of us a writeup on the desired culture and tone for the event. “Don’t be mean” and “Don’t be defensive” and “Be nice” were some of the common themes in those directions. At the CRR, each of the five went off to a different room/space.

Over the course of five hours (two the first day, three the next), each participant had her or his turn to share their work. Sometimes we saw data (a video, or a bit of interview transcript), that the group was meant to help interpret. Sometimes we saw a student problem or a design problem, and we brainstormed theoretical perspectives that could help to gain leverage on understand the student’s issues or to improve the design.

It wasn’t a presentation, and it wasn’t an audience. It was (to use Colleen’s phrase) “borrowing four smart people’s brains to work on your problem for an hour.” I got a lot out of the feedback on my problem (related to the Constructionism for Adults post from awhile back). It was enormous fun digging into the others’ problems. Ben Shapiro of Tufts, Craig Miller from Depaul, Sara Esper of UCSD, and Kate Sanders from Rhode Island College were my teammates — it really felt more like a team, working together toward joint success than a presentation.

At the end, we evaluated the activity to figure out what worked and what didn’t. It really worked to have an easel for a note-taker (not the presenter/leader) to use to track all the discussion. The notes helped the group figure out where they were at, and were a wonderful artifact for the presenter afterward.

Overall, it was a huge success. I expect that we’ll see many future ICER (and other CER venue) papers coming out of the work we shared in Glasgow. I encourage others to participate in the CRR in future years.

August 27, 2014 at 8:25 am 3 comments

Call for Participation in ACM SIGCSE’s ICER 2014 Doctoral Consortium

Sally Fincher and I are organizing this year’s Doctoral Consortium for students working in computing education.  Do come join us in Glasgow!

ICER DC Call for Proposals

The ICER 2014 Doctoral Consortium provides an opportunity for doctoral students to explore and develop their research interests in a workshop environment with a panel of established researchers. We invite students to apply for this opportunity to share their work with students in a similar situation as well as senior researchers in the field. We welcome submissions from students at any stage of their doctoral studies.

Sally Fincher, University of Kent at Canterbury

Mark Guzdial, Georgia Institute of Technology

Contact us at: icerdc2014@gmail.com

 

What is the Doctoral Consortium? 

The DC has the following objectives:

  • Provide a supportive setting for feedback on students’ research and research direction
  • Offer each student comments and fresh perspectives on their work   from researchers and students outside their own institution
  • Promote the development of a supportive community of scholars
  • Support a new generation of researchers with information and advice on research and academic career paths
  • Contribute to the conference goals through interaction with other researchers and conference events

The DC will be held on Sunday, August 10 2014. Students at any stage of their doctoral studies are welcome to apply and attend. The number of participants is limited to 12. Applicants who are selected will receive a limited partial reimbursement of travel, accommodation and subsistence (i.e., food) expenses of $600 (USD).

Preparing and Submitting your Consortium Proposal Extended Abstract

Candidates should prepare a 2-page research description covering central aspects of your PhD work, which follows the structure, details and format specified in the ICER Doctoral Consortium submission template Word<http://icer.hosting.acm.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ICER2013-dc-template.doc> / LaTeX<http://icer.hosting.acm.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ICER2013_dc_template.zip>.

Key points include:

  • Your situation, i.e., the university doctoral program context in which your work is being conducted.
  • Context and motivation that drives your dissertation research
  • Miniature Background/literature review of key works that frames your research
  • Hypothesis/thesis and/or problem statement
  • Research objectives/goals
  • Your research approach and methods, including relevant rationale
  • Results to date and your argument for their validity
  • Current and expected contributions

Appendix 1. A letter of nomination from your primary dissertation advisor, that supports your participation in the DC, explains how your work connects with the ICER community, and describes the expected timeline for your completion of your doctorate.

Appendix 2. Your concise current Curriculum Vita (1–2 pages)

Once you have assembled – and tested – the PDF file, the entire submission file should be emailed to icerdc2014@gmail.com no later than 17:00 PDT on 21 May 2014. When submitting the applications, please put “ICER DC 2014 – <Last Name>” in the Subject line.

Process Timeline:

Friday 21st May – initial submission

Monday 2nd June – notification of acceptance

Monday 16th June – camera ready copy due

 

Doctoral Consortium Review Process

The review and decision of acceptance will balance many factors. This includes the quality of your proposal, and where you are within your doctoral education program. It also includes external factors, so that the group of accepted candidates exhibit a diversity of backgrounds and topics. Your institution will also be taken into account, where we are unlikely to accept more than two students from the same institution.  Confidentiality of submissions is maintained during the review process. All rejected submissions will be kept confidential in perpetuity. Upon Acceptance of your Doctoral Consortium Proposal Authors will be notified of acceptance or rejection on 2 June 2014, or shortly after.

Authors of accepted submissions will receive instructions on how to submit publication-ready copy (this will consist of your extended abstract only), and will receive information about attending the Doctoral Consortium, about preparing your presentation and poster, about how to register for the conference, travel arrangements and reimbursement details. Registration benefits are contingent on attending the Doctoral Consortium.

Please note that submissions will not be published without a signed form releasing publishing copyright to the ACM. Attaining permissions to use video, audio, or pictures of identifiable people or proprietary content rests with the author, not the ACM or the ICER conference.

Before the Conference

Since the goals of the Doctoral Consortium include building scholarship and community, participants will be expected to read all of the Extended Abstracts of your colleagues prior to the beginning of the consortium with a goal of preparing careful and thoughtful critique. Although many fine pieces of work may have to be rejected due to lack of space, being accepted into the Consortium involves a commitment to giving and receiving thoughtful commentary.

At the Conference

All participants are expected to attend all portions of the Doctoral Consortium. We will also be arranging an informal Welcome Dinner for participants and discussants on Saturday August 9, 2014 before the consortium begins. Please make your travel plans to join us this evening to get acquainted.

Within the DC, each student will present his or her work to the group with substantial time allowed for discussion and questions by participating researchers and other students. Students will also present a poster of their work at the main conference. In addition to the conference poster, each student should bring a “one-pager” describing their research (perhaps a small version of the poster using letter or A4 paper) for sharing with faculty mentors and other students.

After the Conference

Accepted Doctoral Consortium abstracts will be distributed in the ACM Digital Library, where they will remain accessible to thousands of researchers and practitioners worldwide.

———–

AUTHORS TAKE NOTE: The official publication date is the date the proceedings are made available in the ACM Digital Library. This date will be one week prior to the first day of the conference. The official publication date affects the deadline for any patent filings related to published work.

————

 

April 23, 2014 at 8:24 am 2 comments

Susan Rodger (SIGCSE Chair) wins ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award

Congratulations, Susan!

Susan H. Rodger, recipient of the Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award for contributions to the teaching of computer science theory in higher education, and the development of computer science education in primary and secondary schools. She and her students developed JFLAP (Java Formal Languages and Automata Package), an interactive software tool that allows students to construct and test examples of automata and grammars. These concepts are foundational to the design of software components, such as compiler parts. Intended primarily for undergraduate students or as an advanced topic for high school, JFLAP is used worldwide in computer science theory, compiler, and discrete mathematics courses. Through workshops for faculty development, Rodger’s work contributed to the creation of a professional community around the use of visualizations to teach algorithms. She also leads efforts to introduce the programming language Alice in primary and secondary schools. Rodger is a professor of the practice of computer science at Duke University. Currently chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), she is a board member of CRA-W and a member of the ACM Education Policy Committee. The Karlstrom Award recognizes educators who advanced new teaching methodologies; effected new curriculum development in Computer Science and Engineering; or contributed to ACM’s educational mission.

via ACM Honors Computing Innovators Who Are Changing the World — Association for Computing Machinery.

April 21, 2014 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

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