Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Preparing for SIGCSE 2013

I am soon to leave for SIGCSE 2013, and I am looking forward to the conference. I have attended several SIGCSE meetings over the last eight years, and I always come away feeling reinvigorated. The community values disciplinary education research and the dissemination of both original results and best practices. The conference experience itself is tiring, but I always walk away having learned something new or made new connections. It's a good thing that the conference builds such energy and positive momentum since it always falls during Ball State's Spring Break; I have to sacrifice a significant opportunity for productivity, relaxation, and family time.

This year, I am giving two research presentations.

On Friday at 10:45AM in Governors 10, I will present "Studio-Based Learning and App Inventor for Android in an Introductory CS Course for Non-Majors." This draws upon the doctoral work of Khuloud Ahmad, who completed an Ed.D. under my supervision last summer. The data collection dates back to the beta release of App Inventor for Android (now MIT App Inventor). We deployed several different assessments to triangulate on our conclusions: that this combination of technology and pedagogy is highly effective for engaging students and exposing them to a breadth of Computer Science ideas, both technical and non-technical. The research results are primarily Khuloud's work, but since she cannot make the trip from Kuwait, and I will be happy to present them.

On Saturday at 10:45AM in Governors 16, I will present "Empirical Evaluation of Periodic Retrospective Assessment," which was coauthored with Brian McNely. This paper formalizes the assessment technique I have written about here several times, with an empirical evaluation drawn from the VBC study. I am excited to present our findings on this unconventional assessment technique, and I am eager to hear how it is received. Hopefully the session will have a good draw despite being the last of the conference. I was inspired by a recent post by Mark Guzdial, where he describes having to frame his work in a broader education research context for a specific audience. Following this inspiration, I have a series of slides at the beginning of the talk that describe what I believe learning to be. In short, if you don't believe that learning is constructive, situated, social, and mediated, or that higher education is about values, dispositions, and reflection, then my assessment technique is not for you.

I may try to continue my 2012 tradition of daily conference reports while at SIGCSE. However, I also want to continue my tradition of sharing beers with like-minded strangers, so I suppose it gets down to which one wins out at the end of long days.

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