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Working Groups


Six working groups will convene during ITiCSE 2006. These working groups will consist of five to ten people who share a common interest in one of the six areas described below. Working groups will commence with electronic communication two months before the conference and then will meet at the conference site beginning two days before the conference and continue throughout the conference. Each working group will determine its own meeting schedule.

Working group members, under the direction of their group leader(s), will work intensively for the two months prior to the conference date. The importance of making effective use of this time cannot be overstated. The intention of the working group experience is NOT to produce a meaningful report in five days. The goal is for working groups to work intensively - in a distributed though collaborative fashion - for two months prior to meeting in person in Italy. The final five days spent at the conference site is meant to be the conclusion of this process.

All working group members are expected to arrive at the conference site three days (June 23th) prior to the conference. For five days, June 24-28, each working groups is expected to work in a collaborative fashion to conclude both their research and report writing. The final three days of this period overlap with the conference. Working group members should feel free to attend talks and other conference activities, although should be prepared to spend most of their time on working group activities. All working group members are expected to stay at the conference site until the end of the conference to fulfil their responsibilities to their working group.

Intermediate working group results will be presented to all conference attendees at a conference session. By the end of the conference each working group will have produced a robust draft of a report. Within four weeks the groups will submit a polished version of the report, which will be reviewed, possibly revised, and edited under the supervision of the working group coordinator. Suitable reports will be published in a SIG CSE Bulletin and become part of the ACM Digital Library.

For more information, contact the working groups coordinator: Myles McNally <>

Applying to be a Working Group Member

To apply to participate in a working group, please send an email to the leader(s) of the working group you wish to join, cc'ing the working group coordinator, by March 27, 2006. Early application is encouraged. Your email should include:

Working group leaders will select, in consultation with the working group coordinator, group members based the perceived level of potential contribution they can make to the success of the working group.

The ITiCSE 2006 Working Groups

Working Group Descriptions

WG1 - Research Methods in Computer Science: What are they and how should we teach them?

Hilary Holz <hilary.holz@csueastbay.edu>
Anne Applin <aapplin@ithaca.edu>

Most of the sciences and all of the social sciences have formalized discipline-specific bodies of research methods. Such a formalized body of knowledge serves two critical roles: it forms a common ground for researchers in a discipline; and it facilitates training new researchers in a discipline.

In computer science, research methods are passed from advisor to student via apprenticeship. We learn these methods from a mentor or not at all. We believe that exclusive reliance on apprenticeship severely limits the creative research possible by faculty and students since we are unable to do good research outside of our apprenticed area without the help of an expert in that area. The dominance of the apprenticeship model may also be a factor in the lack of diversity in computer science, as a successful mentor/protégé relationship requires the mentor to Osee themselves1 in the protégé.

The goal of this working group is to write an initial report on content, pedagogy and curricular issues related to teaching computer science research methods (CSRM). Specifically, the working group will (1) identify and classify common characteristics of research methods used in various domains of computer science to be used in formalizing a core set of CSRM, independent of specific domains; (2) develop a basic set of standards for CSRM literacy (based on the outcomes of (1)); and (3) propose a general framework of learning activities (suitable for (2)).

Participants with expertise in a specific computer science research method, those with experience teaching computer science research methods courses, and those who have successfully integrated research methods teaching into other computer science courses are welcome. Entry to the ITiCSE meeting of the working group, and co-authorship, is conditional on providing suitable written materials prior to the meeting at ITiCSE. For details, see the full working group proposal and 3working group processes2 posted on the CSRM Wiki at http://acc.csueastbay.edu/~csrm/kwiki/index.cgi?ITiCSE06csrmWG.

WG2 - A Multi-national Academic Perspective on the Bologna Process

Ursula Fuller <u.d.fuller@kent.ac.uk>
Arnold Pears <arnold.pears@it.uu.se>

The Bologna process was initiated in 1999 and is intended to culminate in the formation of the European Higher Education Area by 2010. Its aim is to facilitate the mobility of people, the transparency and recognition of qualifications, quality and a European dimension in higher education, and the attractiveness of European institutions for third country students. This has led member countries to reform their HE systems. Implementation of two cycles (undergraduate and postgraduate) has probably had the most disruptive effect and their interpretation has varied enormously from one country to another. There is a lack of agreement about the level of competency that students should have at the end of the first cycle. This is particularly significant in subjects such as Computer Science that are subject to accreditation by professional bodies.

Another contentious area is the length of the Masters programme. This has cost implications for students and institutions and may have significant impact on the recruitment of international students. Finally, the Socrates/Erasmus scheme for promoting mobility is well established but its impact on Computer Science students is very low. Indeed, CS students are the least likely in Europe to include a period of study abroad in their undergraduate programme. In the period before the conference, the working group will collect and synthesise documentation at European, national and institutional levels. This will provide the background for the work of the group during the conference. At this point the working group will compare the realities of their institutional experience and its relationship to the Bologna vision. They will also discuss the implications for CS curricula. The final report will make recommendations aimed at committees of heads of CS departments, Ministries of Education or other appropriate national forums.

WG3 - Concept Inventories in Computer Science for the Topic Discrete Mathematics

David Klappholz <arnoldp@it.uu.se>
Vicki L. Almstrum <almstrum@cs.utexas.edu>
Peter B. Henderson <phenders@butler.edu>
Steven J. Condly <scondly@mail.ucf.edu>

This Working Group (WG) will contribute to the systematic process of developing a Concept Inventory instrument and Views About instrument for Discrete Mathematics (DM) in the context of computing-related curricula. A Concept Inventory (CI) is an instrument for measuring students' (lack of) mastery of fundamental concepts, while a Views About instrument investigates student attitudes relative to the concepts. This effort is inspired by pioneering work in physics education that led to the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) and Views About Science Survey (VASS). The FCI and VASS, which have been key tools in research-based reform in high school and college physics curricula over the past 15 years, have inspired similar developments in other STEM fields, providing a rich source of ideas for similar work in the computing field.

While the ultimate vision is a family of CIs and VA instruments covering the gamut of early core computing topics, this WG will focus on DM as required for computing majors. Among the WG tasks will be to converge on a topic outline, develop candidate items that reveal common misconceptions, construct one or more draft versions of the CI and VA instruments, and plan for important activities such as validating and refining the instruments. The WG will also develop preliminary designs of studies that use these instruments to collect objective evidence of the relative effectiveness of different approaches to teaching DM and DM's contribution to performance in introductory computing course(s) under a variety of approaches.

For WG leader email addresses and additional information, please see the WG webpage at the URL http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/csed/iticse/iticse06/DMinCS-WG/

WG4 - Research Perspectives on the Objects-Early Debate

Raymond Lister <raymond@it.uts.edu.au>
Anders Berglund <anders.berglund@it.uu.se>
Tony Clear <tony.clear@aut.ac.nz>

Some computer scientists argue that objects should be taught early, while others insist that the traditional procedural approach needs to be taught first. In 2004, this issue was debated on the sigcse-members mailing list. A link to the archive of that debate is provided on the working groups web site (see the URL below).  Most postings in that debate were statements of a personal position, without reference to research evidence.

This working group will bring a research perspective to the objects early debate. The aim is NOT to decide whether objects should be taught early.  Instead, some suitable research questions for the working group are :

  1. What issues raised in the SIGCSE mailing list are supported or contradicted by findings in the existing research literature?
  2. What open research questions emerge from the SIGCSE mailing list discussion?
  3. How does the computer science community debate this issue?
  4. How are individual positions justified?

Participants with expertise in any relevant research method, either quantitative and qualitative, are welcome. The working group will not be a competition between research methods. Instead, different research methods will be used to compliment each other, allowing the working group to draw conclusions not possible with a single method.

Entry to the ITiCSE meeting, and co-authorship, is conditional on providing suitable written materials prior to the meeting at ITiCSE. For details, see the full working group proposal on the web site.


WG5 - The Incorporation of Algorithm Visualization in Computer Science Hypertextbooks

Guido Rößling <roessling@acm.org>
Thomas L. Naps <naps@uwosh.edu>

Algorithm Visualization (AV) can be more than a nice add-on for students, if it demands active use and interaction from the students and closely ties in with the lecture materials. Ideally, AV may be embedded into the materials used for the course as a hypertextbook that combines the strengths of textbooks with integrated interactive elements.

Two topic areas are central to this Working Group:

  1. The use of hypertextbooks in [CS] education: Why have they not been widely adopted in CS? This includes aspects such as developing, publishing, using, and advertising hypertextbooks.
  2. How should AV be incorporated in the students' material of the hypertextbook? For example, are applets the best choice? What alternatives are there? To what degree is communication between AV components and the environment (e.g., a Learning Management System) possible?

In electronic communication before the working group convenes in Bologna, we will collect a variety of views from WG members on the answers to these questions and related questions proposed by group members. During ITiCSE 2006, the group will develop specifications for the layout, design, structure, etc., of hypertextbooks that actively incorporate AV. In one sense, our report will hopefully become a blueprint for authors and AV developers who wish to collaborate on hypertextbook efforts in the future.

Working Group members should be familiar with either AV software or with web technologies (HTML, CSS, ...), or ideally with both topics. Experience with textbook use or publishing can also be helpful.

The URL of the Working Group is http://www.algoanim.net/wg2006/index.html.

WG6 - A Cognitive Approach to Identifying Measurable Milestones for Programming Skill Acquisition

Jerry Mead <mead@bucknell.edu>
Simon Gray <sgray@wooster.edu>

Several studies and earlier working groups [2001 (McCracken et al.), 2004(Lister et al.)] report what many CS educators have suspected for some time: that our graduating students are not as proficient at programming as we think they should be. Motivated by this unhappy situation, this working group will address two intertwined problems.

Problem I: How should we define levels of programming skill to be attained by students progressing through a CS degree program?

Problem II: Having defined the levels, how do we determine whether students have indeed attained them?

These problems suggest an exploration from three perspectives. The first is cognitive and derives from models of cognitive development, such as the stages of development described in Mind Over Machine (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986). The second is evaluative, seeing assessment as a critical component of any attempt to improve programming education. The third perspective is educational and highlights the pedagogical aspects of programming skill development.

The goal of the working group is to encourage an open discussion of these problems by exploring trajectories of programming skill development during the undergraduate years. The focus of these discussions will be to identify programming skill sets that students should acquire during their studies and to characterize them by measurable goals and outcomes.

We seek group members with expertise in cognition, programming skill development and/or assessment, or with experience in evaluating problems with current curricular strategies.

If you are interested in participating or would just like to know more, visit the group's web site: http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/~mead/ITiCSE-2006/iticse06WorkingGroup.