Proceedings from the 2017 ITiCSE Conference on Working Group Reports. As countries adopt computing education for all pupils from primary school upwards, there are challenging indicators: significant proportions of students who choose to study computing at universities fail the introductory courses, and the evidence for links between formal education outcomes and success in CS is limited. Yet, as we know, some students succeed without prior computing experience. Why is this? Some argue for an innate ability, some for motivation, some for the discrepancies between the expectations of instructors and students, and some -- simply -- for how programming is being taught. All agree that becoming proficient in computing is not easy. Our research takes a novel view on the problem and argues that some of that success is influenced by early childhood experiences outside formal education. In this study, we analyzed over 1300 responses to a multi-institutional and multi-national survey that we developed. The survey captures enjoyment of early developmental activities such as childhood toys, games and pastimes between the ages 0 --- 8 as well as later life experiences with computing. We identify unifying features of the computing experiences in later life, and attempt to link these computing experiences to the childhood activities. The analysis indicates that computing proficiency should be seen from multiple viewpoints, including both skill-level and confidence. Our analysis is the first to show, we believe, that particular early childhood experiences are linked to parts of computing proficiency, namely those related to confidence with problem solving using computing technology. These are essential building blocks for more complex use. We recognize issues in the experimental design that may prevent our data showing a link between early activities and more complex computing skills, and suggest adjustments for future studies. Ultimately, we expect that this line of research will feed in to early years and primary education, and thereby improve computing education for all., Peer reviewed, Conference paper, Published.
Proceedings from the 23rd Annual ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. Computer science and technology education should provide not only a strong theoretical foundation, but also problem solving, and communication and teamwork skills to prepare the students for careers. Including projects in curricula is a norm in many disciplines. However, projects are generally individual or based on small teams (two to five members). This paper presents my approach to teaching a capstone undergraduate computer technology course at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in the Computer System Technology (CST) Program in which a large class of students (maximum 22), organized into small teams work together and apply Agile software development practices to design, implement, integrate and test a large project. This model provides students with unique learning opportunities and experiences, as well as improving their soft skills, engagement and motivation., Peer reviewed, Conference paper, Published.
The Prosthetics and Orthotics Department at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Vancouver, Canada, has recently completed a visioning process which was done as part of a curriculum review. This report presents and discusses the key points emerging from the process. It is anticipated that the results of the visioning process will provide a basis for a major curriculum revision to the BCIT’s prosthetics and orthotics program. The intent of a curriculum review is to determine whether an educational program’s curriculum is current and relevant with respect to providing students with entry-level skills for the workforce. It involves examining the current scope of practice and competencies of the profession in question and then reflecting back on the curriculum to determine whether these competencies are being taught adequately. Visioning attempts to determine not what entry-level skills graduates require but, instead, what knowledge and skills students need to meet the challenges of the workplace approximately 10 to 15 years into the future., Peer-reviewed article, Published.
Prepared for the Atlantic Canada Economic Association Conference, October 19-20, 2012, Halifax Nova Scotia. Both the Canada and United States invest a great deal of resources in the training of their military personal. Many of the skills and experiences accumulated by soldiers are those that are highly valued by civilian employers. Further, these skills are often embodied in academic programs, suggesting soldiers would have a comparative advantage in such programs; however, despite the efforts of government agencies, many soldiers are unable to convert their skills and training into meaningful careers. This paper presents the findings from a pilot program at the BC institute of Technology 2009-2012. The program uses an alternative approach to assessing military training for advanced placement into post-secondary programs. By mapping learning outcomes rather than course equivalences, those from non-traditional education backgrounds are given advanced placement into post-secondary programs. During the pilot period, a cohort of reservists and veterans who have been given advanced placement are tracked and benchmarked against regular students in the same programs over time, measuring academic scores and testing for the development of skills, abilities, and qualities considered important for workplace success., Conference paper, Draft available.
Proceedings from the 2017 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. Drawing on the long debate about whether computer science (CS) and computational thinking skills are innate or learnable, this working group is based on the following hypothesis: The apparent innate ability of some CS learners who succeed in CS courses despite no prior exposure to computing is a manifestation of early childhood experiences and learning outside formal education., Peer reviewed, Conference paper, Published., K-12 education, Computational thinking
Proceedings from the 23rd Annual ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. Since computing education began, we have sought to learn why students struggle in computer science and how to identify these at-risk students as early as possible. Due to the increasing availability of instrumented coding tools in introductory CS courses, the amount of direct observational data of student working patterns has increased significantly in the past decade, leading to a flurry of attempts to identify at-risk students using data mining techniques on code artifacts. The goal of this work is to produce a systematic literature review to describe the breadth of work being done on the identification of at-risk students in computing courses. In addition to the review itself, which will summarize key areas of work being completed in the field, we will present a taxonomy (based on data sources, methods, and contexts) to classify work in the area., Peer reviewed, Conference paper, Published.