14.02.16 - 19.02.16, Seminar 16072

Assessing Learning In Introductory Computer Science

Diese Seminarbeschreibung wurde vor dem Seminar auf unseren Webseiten veröffentlicht und bei der Einladung zum Seminar verwendet.


Computing education is in an exciting period of experimentation. Rapid evolution of the field, diverse uses of computing across disciplines, and an exploding and broadening population of students interested in our courses challenge us to rethink how we approach computing education. At the same time, computing education research shows how much students still struggle to learn computing.

As a discipline, Computer Science has not yet converged on common learning outcomes for introductory computing. The computing community lacks commonly accepted objectives and assessment frameworks to make good comparative assessments of our educational experiments. Research often focuses on students' learning of basic control constructs, which is only a small corner of introductory computing. Programming environments collect all sorts of student data, but developers are often uninformed as to what data is relevant. What is needed are shared objectives and assessment methods that enable more useful computing education research while providing guidance to those outside the area.

This seminar aims to bring together computing and education researchers who think deeply about CS learning objectives and how to assess them. The goals of the seminar are to articulate flexible yet measurable learning objectives for the first year of university CS education, to brainstorm assessment questions that are worth asking about how and what students are learning about CS, and to identify concrete techniques for answering those questions. We focus on the first year, rather than simply CS1, as the longer time-span accommodates more variation in approach. We focus on university-level education both to scope our discussions and to align with the professional settings of the participants.

Topics discussed in this seminar include:

  • What are concrete (measurable) concepts and competencies that we expect students to have after the first year of university-level computer science? What measurable outcomes for the first year could we assess beyond programming? 
  • What kinds of assessment techniques should we develop for these outcomes? Are there the viable and valuable alternatives to, e.g., concept inventories that are more cost-effective?
  • What outcomes would we like to see in non-major courses that are not merely preparing students to write scripts needed on the job?

Our goal is not to finish articulating objectives and assessments. Rather, we hope to spur development and sharing of instruments for future research, while reflecting the burgeoning demands on computing education across universities.