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Working Groups:

Working Group Schedule

Jan 22nd - April 12th
Applications to join groups are accepted
April - June 22nd
Groups work electronically
June 23rd
Groups convene in Canterbury
June 24th
Buffet lunch for Group members
June 25th
Conference commences
June 25th
Verbal presentation of Group issues to conference
June 27th
Conference ends; draft report ready
July 27th
Final report submitted

Working Group Concept

A working group consists of five to ten members who share a common interest. They will begin work by electronic communication before the conference - this phase is critically important to the group's success. The group will actually convene on June 23rd 2001.

Potential working group members should realize that being a member of a working group will require a large commitment during the conference. Each group will set their own schedule, so that they can draft their report by the end of the conference. These reports will be completed, edited and if suitable, will be published after the conference as a supplemental proceeding and distributed to all conference attendees. The will also be posted to the ACM's Digital Library.

ITICSE Working Groups are not a new concept, and a history of their topics and outputs may be found at http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/csed/iticse/

In 1998, two seasoned WG campaigners produced a good paper on making the concept work - this can be read at http://www.csc.vill.edu/~joyce/wgroups/success.html

Applying to be a Working Group Participant

Prepare about a two page (1000 word) proposal as follows: Name, Contact Information, Affiliation, Position/Title.

Include a description of your experience and a position statement relative to the working group(s) you wish to join. Plain text electronic submissions are preferred as this will facilitate sharing of information.

Send your application to the Working Group Convenor of the Group(s) in which you are interested.

Mail the organiser, Roger Boyle, School of Computing, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT, roger@comp.leeds.ac.uk with any problems.

The 3 groups that will operate are;
(Group convenors will be able to provide fuller information on request).

1. Assessment of programming skills of 1st year CS students
Michael McCracken,

Computer Science educators have been concerned with student's ability to learn to program almost since the first computer science course. Numerous studies have been conducted to uncover the issues of learning to program, and many others have studied various aspects of the problem of learning to program. Many other researchers have looked at programming's similarity to mathematics learning, its similarity to second language learning, and its need to be learned at an early age. These studies have helped computer science educators improve the teaching of programming. But one issue remains. Do computer science students really know how to program? A second and equally important issue is are they learning to program in the introductory courses where the foundations of programming skills are supposed to be developed?

Asking the question, "Do computer science students know how to program", appears to be a sacrilege. Yet, there is anecdotal evidence that suggests many students do not know how to program, in particular in their first and second years. Over the last year we have conducted some informal experiments to confirm our misgivings and are finding surprising results. The students don't know how to program nor do they have a grasp of the fundamentals of programming at the level of competence we expect. We have looked at data from both our first and second year courses and find results that are relatively consistent. The second year students obviously have more skill than the first year students, but their skill is no where near the level we expected. We have also had conversations with colleagues in other computer science programs and their concerns are similar to ours.

This working group proposal wants to answer the question: "Do you know what your students' programming skills are and are those skills at the level you have established for your program?

2. Striving for mathematical thinking
Peter B. Henderson,

There is significant interest stirring regarding the important relationships between mathematical reasoning and computer science thinking. Some surveys seem to indicate that it may be heading away from mathematics, but we seem to have a contradiction - other surveys indicate that mathematics and mathematical thinking are central to computer science education. Over the past 20 years, discrete math has migrated from an upper division course to a lower division, and several universities require it the first semester.

This working group will apply the collective wisdom of the participants to develop concrete strategies, activities and material for enhancing the role of mathematical thinking/reasoning in computer science education. Mathematical thinking plays a crucial role in computer science based problem solving, and heightened awareness of this synergistic relationship within the computer science education community will lead to the development of better software systems.

3. Resources for instructors of capstone s/w development courses
Tony Clear,
Frank Young,

We propose to collect and organize resources for capstone software development courses. Our goal is to provide capstone software development course instructors with a collection of web-based resources. We anticipate that the web site will allow instructors of capstone courses to learn from the experiences and errors of others. The desired result is an improvement in the quality and effectiveness of capstone courses in general.

Instructors for these courses must consider many important issues Most instructors who supervise capstone courses fail to consider every one of the important issues. It is fairly obvious that one reason for this is that the number of issues is quite large. Another reason is that instructors who are inexperienced in supervising such projects may be unaware of the importance of certain issues. What is needed is a community resource that all capstone instructors, new and experienced, are able to consult. The information placed there should enable all instructors of capstone software development courses to improve their courses. There is no desire to codify any recommended uniform standards for such courses. We seek quality through the diversity that results from informed choice.





Questions or comments? Please contact R. Dayoub

Page updated:26/06/01