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Colorado Computer Science Education (ColCSE) Conference: 2015

The morning of the conference was spent listening to each school present their demographics, challenges, and best practices. I only received the slide sets posted below. If your presentation is missing and you would like it posted, please send it to wilcox@cs.colostate.edu. Here are my notes from the group discussions:

Female and Minority Participation

Every institution reported low female participation rates, from zero to the low teens seemed to be the status quo. There were more questions than answers during this session, here are a couple interesting questions, comments, and proposals we heard.

Collaboration with High Schools

This topic was also supposed to include how we could work with junior or community colleges, but we only talked about high schools. The Fort Collins high school teachers talked about the CS curriculum in high school. All high schools in Fort Collins are working towards AP/CS courses, which is sometimes split into a one semester introduction and a more advanced second semester. The AP/CS curriculum teaches Java programming and is very similar to post-secondary CS1 courses. It includes variables, conditionals, control loops, object-oriented concepts such as class design, object instantiation, and polymorphism. The main data structures are simple arrays, array lists, and algorithms are mostly limited to searching and sorting.

In addition to the normal AP/CS course, there has recently been introduced a "Principles of Computer Science" course defined by the same AP/CS people. This course goes beyond simple literacy and talks about data mining from web sites and other interesting applications of Computer Science, but has limited programming. This sounds somewhat like the "Beauty and Joy of Computing" courses now offered at Berkeley and many other campuses.

Teaching Introductory Undergraduate Computer Science

There was lots of discussion but not much of anything documented during this last hour of the conference. We saw a nice presentation from Stewart Crawford on integrating computer science with math and other science courses. This included an interesting demo of simple Python programs that draw interesting pictures of mathematical objects. Automated grading and academic integrity were discussed. The benefits of traditional languages (C, C++) versus Java versus scripting languages such as Python were debated but nothing was resolved!

Miscellaneous Questions

Here are a few questions that were posted on the board during the day, and a report on the scheduling of the next conference: Liz Boese also had extensive notes from the conference, which are here.
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