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Working Group Information

Four working groups will convene during ITiCSE 2003. A working group will consist of five to ten people who share a common interest in one of the four areas described below. Working groups will commence with electronic communication two months before the conference. The working groups will meet at the conference site for the two days before the conference and throughout the conference. Each working group will determine its own meeting schedule.

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 SIGCSE Bulletin and become part of the ACM Digital Library.

An endorsement from the previous year's working group coordinator.

I have been a member and/or a leader of working groups in five of the six initial ITiCSE conferences. I have rarely done anything more exciting or valuable. I have made a large number of professionally valuable international contacts through the groups and these have lasted. I've participated in important work of interest to myself an others. It has been fun, though intense. I recommend it highly.

Joe Bergin

To apply to participate in a working group contact the working groups coordinator and the leader of the group you would like to join. While there is no set application process, in your communication you should indicate:

  • Name and contact information.
  • Why you are interested in participating in the particular working group.
  • What specific expertise in the area you bring to the working group. This should include background and prior contributions to the topic of the group.
  • If possible, a short bibliography of your prior work in the area.

Deadline for application to a working group is April 18, 2003.

Note that the working groups are not tutorials. The purpose is not to learn something about a topic of which you know little. Working groups bring experts (and future experts) on a topic together for intensive work. Occasionally a group might admit a person with little experience and a lot of enthusiasm, but these participants are definitely in the minority. The working group leaders will want to know what you can bring to the group and what you have done in the past.

Working group leaders, members, and potential members should examine the members page for more detailed information about the working group experience.

For more information, contact the working groups coordinator: Michael Goldweber ( )

How shall we assess this?
Janet Carter (
John English (

With increasing class sizes in educational establishments worldwide, the practice of assessment is becoming a problematic issue; increasing numbers make it increasingly difficult to assess student attainment. This working group intends to investigate current assessment practices, particularly the use of automated assessment, in computer science education. This includes determining the scope and usage of automated assessment techniques in educational institutions worldwide, the educational soundness of the techniques used, and the impact of these techniques on areas including student achievement, plagiarism, and staff workloads. Current practice regarding assessment techniques needs to be located within current educational theory. Once this is established we will be in a position to suggest a set of internationally applicable guidelines for educators setting automated CS assessments.

Automated assessment saves time and human resources but its adoption must be pedagogically sound; all assessments should follow sound educational principles. The major output will be a survey of, and guidelines for the use of, automated assessment within CS teaching and learning, although other findings will also emerge. The envisaged outputs are: a taxonomy of CS assessment; guidelines for assessing CS materials; guidelines for the use of automated assessment within CS; the provision of sound pedagogic principles for the adoption of appropriate assessment methods for the scenario; a picture of the correlation between a student's understandings of the different topic areas taught within a CS degree program.

See the Working Group's Web page for more information.

Preparing students for university study in CS
Martyn Clark (
Roger Boyle (

  • How do pre-university computing qualifications relate to what is studied in university computing courses?
  • Typically, do universities make a pre-university computing qualification a requirement for entrance into a computing degree programme?
  • In computing, is it possible to forecast which students are likely to have successful university careers on the basis of the qualifications they bring with them?
  • Is a good grade in a pre-university computing qualification an indicator of success in computing?
  • Do students bringing a good mathematics qualification do better?

These issues are fundamental to anyone involved with admiting candidates to computing degrees and to all university computing educators who have expectations of new undergraduates. The working group will consider the situation in a variety of countries.

Before arrival in Thessaloniki working group members will: research school level qualifications in computing relevant to university entrance in their country; circulate details of formal entrance requirements and actual attainment of a CS cohort on entry; circulate details of the first year computer science curriculum in their institution; collect statistical data on relative performance of sub-cohorts.

Working group meetings will: compare pre-university computing qualifications in each country; consider whether pre-university qualifications confer an advantage in university study in each country represented; compare statistical evidence from each country relating to how well pre-university computing qualifications predict success in university study; write a report for publication.

See the Working Group's Web page for more information.

Concepts first in introductory programming
Juris Reinfelds (
Peter Van Roy (

Byte-code has enabled ubiquitous multi-platform programming. Dot NET and its Open Source implementation MONO are enabling multi language, multi-paradigm code. Our teaching of programming has to adapt to the requirements of these new directions, but how to do it without an explosion of required course hours?

Programming languages dwell on syntactic and semantic differences that distinguish one language from the others. Programming theory extracts and studies the concepts and mechanisms that are common to programming languages. A Programmer's Theory of Programming deals with concepts that programmers use to reason about programs. An approach through a Programmer's Theory of Programming is one way that an introduction to multi-language, multi-paradigm, distributed computing can be fitted into the class-hours currently allocated to CS-1 and CS-2.

This Working Group will explore and define a concepts-first approach to introductory programming, compare it to the current approaches and contrast it with other possible approaches that are intended to equip CS graduates to better deal with the programming needs of tomorrow.

Evaluating the educational impact of algorithm visualization
Tom Naps (
Guido Rößling (

Visualization technology can be used to graphically illustrate various concepts in computer science. However, the instructional effectiveness of using such visualizations remains in doubt. Recent research has begun to show that visualization technology used in isolation may not be nearly as effective as when that technology is used in conjunction with strategies for "engaging" the students with the visualizations they watch. This suggests that what learners do, not what they see, may have the greatest impact on learning. In an attempt to formalize some of these results, a 2002 ITiCSE working group on "Improving the Educational Impact of Algorithm Visualization" developed a framework for conducting experimental studies of visualization effectiveness ( Central to this framework was a taxonomy of learner engagement with the visualization technology.

This working group hopes to use the framework developed last year to plan and analyze a small number of effectiveness studies. Towards this end, applicants are being sought from anyone who is interested in being part of planning experimental studies that collect some form of data regarding the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of using visualizations in attempting to help students learn computer science concepts. During the working group sessions in June we will develop the details of those plans. Then, after returning to our respective campuses, we will collectively examine the data we collect and determine how it fits into the engagement taxonomy from the previous year's report. In doing so, we hope to see how data from such individual carefully planned experiments fits into the "big picture" and gain further insight into how visualizations can be effectively used. We emphasize that we are not just interested in having participants from the 2002 working group apply for this working group. Any educator with interest in planning and participating in a "visualization effectiveness study" will bring a valuable contribution to this working group. In return, the group will help that educator make better sense out of the data that is collected and hopefully fit that data into the visualization taxonomy that the 2002 working group developed.

See the Working Group's Web page for more information.