February 14 – 19 , 2016, Dagstuhl Seminar 16072

Assessing Learning In Introductory Computer Science


Michael E. Caspersen (Aarhus University, DK)
Kathi Fisler (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, US)
Jan Vahrenhold (Universität Münster, DE)

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Dagstuhl Report, Volume 6, Issue 2 Dagstuhl Report
Aims & Scope
List of Participants
Dagstuhl's Impact: Documents available


The goal of the seminar was to focus on several broadly applicable learning outcomes for first year university computer science courses, looking at what it would take to understand and assess them in multiple pedagogic contexts.

In preparation for the seminar, we surveyed participants to get an understanding of a what could be a common denominator of CS1/2 learning outcomes, using the outcomes from the ACM CC 2013 curriculum as a starting point. We asked participants to (a) identify ones that are covered in their institution's CS1/2 courses, and (b) to identify ones that they have either experience or interest in investigating further. Participants also suggested objectives that were not included in CC 2013.

Of these candidate outcomes, we studied a subset during the seminar, as voted by the participants. We used breakout sessions to get small groups of participants to focus on individual outcomes, reporting on what is known about each outcome, its underlying challenges and/or relevant underlying theory, how to best assess it, and what sorts of research questions should be asked to advance educational research on that outcome. We had three separate sets of breakout sessions, so each participant had the chance to work on three outcomes in detail during the week. The discussion of some sessions was continued in a following session.

Rather than have most individual participants give talks, we ran three speed-dating poster sessions on the first afternoon: each person got to put up a poster on some outcome that they have studied, so others could see the research of other attendees.

In addition, we had three invited presentations focussing on workload and determinants of study success (Schulmeister), types of prior knowledge and their relation to study success (Theyssen), and Concept Inventories (Kaczmarczyk and Wolfman). The abstracts of these presentations are included in this report.

Summary text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
  Michael E. Caspersen, Kathi Fisler, and Jan Vahrenhold


  • Data Structures / Algorithms / Complexity
  • Programming Languages / Compiler
  • Software Engineering


  • Computer Science Education
  • Educational Assessment
  • Learning Objectives


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


Download overview leaflet (PDF).

Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.