I attended SIGCSE for the first time!

I just got back home from my first academic conference as a PhD student. I absolutely love conferences and I had a really wonderful time attending talks and meeting all kinds of people. I wanted to share some of the things I learned at SIGCSE:

  1. There is incredible excitement among the younger folks I met to make CS more inclusive and accessible. No one under the age of 35 would shut up about how important it was to make CS truly for all. I loved it
  2. Attendees seemed to have surprisingly little background in ED theory. I think there is a need to educate the community of CSEd researchers and practitioners on the broad strokes of learning sciences and how they relate to CSEd. Ideas like Behaviorism and Social Constructivism are helpful both in discussing and generating new ideas and in figuring out ways to measure the success of interventions.
  3. There is an incredibly wide range of opinions on what CS students need.
  4. There is a continuing crisis of (CS) educator numbers in K-12 and at smaller colleges and universities. This seems to be one of the drivers of the interest in teaching CS “at scale”.
  5. The big drama seems to be about the two AP computer science courses. Although I didn’t hear anyone angry or arguing, almost everyone seemed to care deeply about the content, purpose, and above all programming language of these courses.
  6. Everyone I met seemed more than happy to discuss my ideas about CS1 but few seemed interested in critiquing them.

Here are some of my favorite things I saw and read that I think are worth looking at:

  1. Subgoal Labeling for CS1
    1. Cool research on adding “Subgoal Labeling” as a scaffold for students. The idea is to label, for students, chunks of sample code in “worked solutions” to help them build a higher level mental model used to understand code and its constituent parts.
    2. They have some really impressive results over 3 papers
    3. https://www.cs1subgoals.org/
    4. They are working on adding Python and are looking for research partners
    5. They have a runestone textbook that supports this work
  2. CS + Ethics
    1. Teaching ethics by teaching ethics pedagogy The idea here is to create a CS Ethics course whose final project is an ethics module for another CS course. Seems like a very cool thing to replicate in the engineering school at Tufts.
    2. The House of Computing: Integrating Counternarratives Fascinating and difficult to summarize. Argues for integrating counternarratives (in all CS courses) to undermine the dominant narrative that CS is “objective, apolitical, and unbiased, with little need for ethics education”

Also everyone should check out CSEdResearch.org!

Volunteering at TS was a blast! I just wish I had taken more pictures