ITiCSE 2014 working groups

To apply to join a working group, contact the group leaders via the email addresses provided below with each abstract.

Applications to join working groups close March 31st.

List of working groups

(The working group "Game Jam" has unfortunately been cancelled.)

Methodology and Technology for In-Flow Peer Review

Peer review is an effective teaching tool, but often happens after assignments are turned in, on complete artifacts (or complete iterations of artifacts) that other students have created. This misses an opportunity to use peer review feedback in the middle of programming problems, to encourage reflection on solution strategies and problem understanding earlier in the programming process. An alternative model, which we call in-flow reviewing, would have students review each others' work between intermediate stages of an ongoing assignment. This model provides earlier (and likely more actionable) feedback. Meaningful in-flow review demands techniques for staging problems, useful review prompts, and effective rubrics. Our working group will explore these factors, as well as assignment styles that enable and benefit from peer review in the early stages of programming problems. Participants will do some up-front design work, before the conference, on converting one or more existing assignments to in-flow review style. On-site, we'll discuss the different approaches the participants have designed, and come up with overall design guidelines for such assignments, hypotheses and experiments for testing the effectiveness of in-flow review, and an understanding of what kinds of programming problems and classes could benefit from it.

Increasing Accessibility and Adoption of Smart Technologies for Computer Science Education

While many tools and technological solutions are developed to support the teaching and learning of computing, few such "smart" tools ever achieve widespread adoption and use. This working group will analyze the range of problems that educators face when disseminating the results of their tool-related research, examine the critical factors that are most important for successful dissemination, and develop approaches to minimize the barriers to entry and cost of adoption. Our discussion will be structured around the five entities that are central for designing and using smart tools: the author of the tool, the student, the adopting instructor, the deployment environment (e.g., an LMS, a learning portal, an online textbook, or an aggregator such as a MOOC platform), and the tool itself. By examining the exchange of data between these five entities, we plan to identify the critical issues, discuss and design possible software architectural solutions where appropriate, build guidelines for smart content developers to ease interoperability of and integration of tools with standard content and learning management systems, design protocols for exchanging information, and agree on joint future actions to further develop these themes. We invite participation by developers of CS educational resources, educational researchers and, technology developers.

Benchmarking Examination Questions for Introductory Programming Courses

What is the difference between passing an introductory programming course at one institution and passing it at another? While introductory programming courses might all share the same fundamentals, courses at different institutions will differ in many respects. All members of this working group will include the same set of common questions in their final examinations, and at the conference the group will analyse the students’ performance on those questions to establish a useful benchmark for introductory programming examinations across multiple institutions. The common questions will work equally well with a number of procedural and object-oriented programming languages, and will cover material that should be common to most introductory programming courses. They are expected to make up some 20%-30% of most exams, leaving ample scope for each exam to maintain its existing flavour and level of difficulty. Members will be assisted to obtain ethics approval to use their students’ performance data for research purposes. The working group leaders welcome preliminary discussion about courses, the language used, the approach used, etc. Prospective members will of course be shown the questions to be used before they commit to joining the group.

A Sustainable Gamification Strategy for Education

Gamification focuses on injecting play and passion to drive user engagement in a learning activity. When something is fun and arouses passion or emotion, humans tend to flock to the activity. Gamification aims to encourage these dynamics, between people and their own internal drivers. This isn’t as simple as including ‘points’ towards completing small tasks; rather, successful gamification requires design and mindful changes in the scaffolded components around the process. It isn’t as simple as re-creating or re-designing a process so that those working in it have the same commitment as enthused gamers, who often desire to simply keep going and going, over and over again. While gamers may be up all night trying to reach the next level, it’s difficult to imagine a similar enthusiasm and passion in a regular education-related scenario and such passion may also have unwelcome side-effects. This working group will explore the design of a framework for classroom gamification taking into account the diversity of players and roles to maximise the learning outcome. The objective is to learn from the review of publications, use cases, and experiences, to design adaptive mechanisms that fulfil individual needs but allows for traditional comparative gamification elements (e.g., leader board or scores) and overall objectives. The framework is then validated in short experiments at each of the affiliated institutions of the work group members. The outcome of the experiments will be analysed and used to finalise the framework.

Strengthening Methodology Education in Computing

For this working group, send email to:

Methodology is a central feature of science, including the science of computing. Methodological debates have been a central feature in computing’s search for disciplinary identity, yet computing has been criticized for its methodological quality. Despite debates about the role of methodology in computing education, computing’s major curriculum recommendations often say little about methodology education. One major reason is that computing spans a broad variety of subjects, such as microprocessors, algorithms, and human-computer interaction. Skills that are essential for one computing profession are irrelevant for another, and there is no one recipe for methodology education either. This working group gives an opportunity for computing educators to discuss the role of methodology education in computing disciplines, to compare experiences concerning methodological issues, and to assess the need for joint initiatives on methodology education in computing. This working group aims at developing a high-level understanding on the justification and principles of methodology education in computing. The group describes solutions and best practices for methodology education, and organizes a working mode for further collaboration.

Computational Thinking in K-9 Education

Lately we have witnessed an increasingly active debate on the status of CS in lower levels of education. Computers and software play an important role in the everyday activities at schools, but as they are mainly used as tools the underlying principles are neglected. Giving children the opportunity to not only use but also create and understand the workings of new technologies is seen as an essential part of preparing them for living in a world where all areas are influenced by CS. Computational thinking (CT) was coined by Wing in 2006 as a “universally applicable attitude and skill set everyone, not just computer scientists, would be eager to learn and use". These skills are related to e.g. problem decomposition, algorithms, abstraction as well as data collection, representation and analysis. Together with digital literacy, they provide children with powerful means for e.g. solving problems, exploring data, modeling phenomena as well as for communicating and expressing themselves. The aim of this working group is to create a report on different aspects of introducing computational thinking (CT) in the K-9 curriculum. More specifically, we will a) synthesize the current situation of CT in K-9 education, b) collect good practices on how CT is used in education, c) prepare ideas and guidelines for introducing CT in education (including teacher preparation), d) set the ground for an online repository of unplugged and computer based CT-activities for use in education, and e) present a set of interesting research questions and suitable research methods.


If you have any questions on the working groups, please contact the ITiCSE 2014 Working Group Coordinators: Alison Clear and Raymond Lister.
Questions about a specific working group, and applications to join a group, should be directed to the group leaders listed for each working group.