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Name: Arthur Gatin Grade: 9.5


Criteria Needs more work Strong
Opening: the paper is introduced appropriately for the assignment
so that the reader is clear about the writer’s intention.

Appropriate context is provided.

The writer has encouraged a reader’s interest.

The thesis is clear and appropriate for the assignment.

Readability—organization, clarity, cohesion, and flow: the


ideas are organized and structured in a manner appropriate for
the assignment

The student shows skill and knowledge of transitions and bridge


building to help the reader follow the flow of ideas.

Paragraphs are unified around one idea and one point.

Sentences are constructed and arranged effectively to show


variety, clarity, and concision.

Word choice is precise, clear, effective, appropriate, and


interesting.
Development: the ideas and points are clearly and appropriately
developed with sufficient details so as to show depth of thought
and ability to link generalizations and main points with specific
support.

Development goes beyond restating others’ words and work and


includes the writer’s own analysis and explanation/reasoning.

Outside sources are accurately and honestly introduced,


quoted, paraphrased, summarized, integrated, and
documented.
Closing: the piece of writing is concluded in a way that is
appropriate for the purpose and audience (closing statement)

The conclusion provides coherence with the intention noted in


the introduction and the support provided in the development of
the piece of writing.

Writing conventions—compassion and consideration for the


reader: shows care in revising, editing, and proofreading so as to
eliminate most problems with standard English usage, syntax,
punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Although the reader might
encounter an occasional error, there should be no pattern of errors;
shows precise and consistent adherence to documentation
conventions when outside sources are used.

Writing Project 2:
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Acknowledging growth and moving forward

February 21, 2019

Dear Maria,

As I am writing these lines, the chimes from Storke Tower are reminding me of the upcoming
deadline for Writing Project 2. I remember the time period before the deadline for WP1 quite well
and only now have realized how much has happened between these two moments in time. In this
letter, I wanted to reflect on the most important stages of completing Writing Project 2 and compare
my writing process for this assignment with the process for WP1.
One of the most successful stages of completing WP2 was the interview. I was excited when I first
read about it in the project description, and, frankly, the rest of the project was built around this
interview. I knew that Professor Mirza knew a lot about publications in Computer Science
education, and therefore deliberately chose this specific topic for the project. It was a risk I took,
and, in my opinion, it paid off well – I had a great interview, learned a lot about the academic
community, and collected more information than what I could have hoped for. In fact, the result of
approaching this interview with such enthusiasm and thoughtfulness did not just end there – after
several days following the interview, I have received an invitation to join Professor Mirza’s team on
writing a literature review paper – this fact was discovered during the interview, and was discussed in
detail, which allows me to suggest that this interview definitely played a role in me getting invited. Commented [MOU1]: Congratulations!! This is great!

One of the struggles with this assignment was choosing the research papers to analyze and
incorporate into the final paper. I tried to choose those that contained excerpts relevant to the
writing conventions I’ve noticed while completing PB4, but the time constraint did not allow me to
choose from a larger pool of publications. It is unlikely that the bigger pool would change my
writing conventions, but they could make my arguments clearer.
This assignment was subjectively a bit easier to complete than Writing Project 1, partly because of
experience gained from the past. Knowing the expectations and format of the assignment helped a
lot with designing and refining the paper. I walked into WP2 with confidence and enthusiasm,
which, looking back, was not necessarily the case with WP1. I’m also walking out of WP2 with much
more confidence and a bit of sadness, as I have enjoyed analyzing something that I had a personal
connecting to, interviewing a professor, and writing the paper. This enjoyment resulted in better
time management, which, in my opinion, had a positive effect on the paper’s quality. What is even
more important is the fact that I can sense my growth as a writer based on the amount of time it
takes me to write, how many writing choices I am able to see, and how educated and justified my
writing decisions are. Commented [MOU2]: It makes me so happy to read these
words. I’m glad that you’re able to apply this knowledge to
your assignments!
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I am proud of the work I’ve done for this assignment and am looking forward to refining the paper
for the final portfolio.

Sincerely,

Arthur Gatin
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Arthur Gatin

Professor Fedorova

Writing 2

31 January 2019

Project Builder 3

Teaching history involves presenting documents that provide a cross-section of society at

a point in time and analyzing its values and practices. Teaching physics involves introducing

concepts that have changed our understanding of the universe, explain their significance, and

show how these concepts can be applied in the real world. Teaching writing involves reading

literary works and analyzing them for effective composition techniques. But how would you

teach something that happens entirely within a computer?

Education in computer science is one of the oldest disciplines in a very modern field. One

of the higher education institutions that pioneered teaching computer science was Purdue

University. The department, according to the university’s website, was established in 1962, but it

wasn’t until the 1970’s that the faculty reached 10 members. Other universities across the nation

share similar timelines for the formations of computer science departments, which marks the

beginning of education in computer science. Ever since then, the faculty members across the

globe were collaborating to invent effective strategies to teach the logic behind computers.

The reason I have selected this particular discipline is because I recently became sort of a

faculty member of UCSB’s Computer Science department myself. A team of undergraduate


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tutors, which I am a part of, assists professors in teaching introductory courses in the major, and

is taught the art of teaching in the process. The early exposure to academic papers and research

on education in computer science made me realize how big the discipline really was, and how

much knowledge was produced since the ‘70s to make teaching more effective. The existing

knowledge of some of these publications not only allows me to predict the writing practices that

exist within the discipline, but also points me to resources to find more such publications that

will be the core of this assignment.

My general strategy for this assignment is to get a sample of various credible publication

on education in computer science. Some will be on something very specific, such as the use of

undergraduate learning assistants in small classrooms, or effectiveness of different models to

describe dynamic memory. Others will be broader, such as the use of keynotes and visuals in

teaching computer science, or summary of challenges that students face in introductory computer

science courses. With thousands and thousands of publications available since the introduction of

computer science into academic curriculums, I will rely on the search engines and professors to

select the most influential ones. I will then group them not by the subject analyzed, but by how

the publication is structured and how it presents and interprets evidence. The number of these

publications will depend on how many I will be able to analyze without sacrificing the quality of

analysis of each one. Then, I would try to find similarities between how those key discoveries

were communicated and consider whether this communication helped these ideas become widely

recognized.

Approaching the task by gathering publications spanning the entire discipline will allow

me to analyze the most influential works in computer science education, their findings, how they

were communicated, and how they have since changed the classroom education all across the
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globe. Additionally, knowledge of effective writing practices can be applied far outside of

computer science, a relatively small discipline, and will improve my writing and reading skills.

Finally, understanding what the most effective way to teach and write about teaching might

someday even apply to my own career, shall it turn in that direction.


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Arthur Gatin

Professor Fedorova

Writing 2

6 February 2019

Project Builder 4

Source #1. Dickson, Paul E., et al. “Using Undergraduate Teaching Assistants in Small Classes.”

Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science

Education - SIGCSE '17, 2017, doi:10.1145/3017680.3017725.

In this article, Dickson advocates the use of undergraduate teaching assistants in

introductory computer science classes. He describes the results of previous implementations of

the undergraduate learning program in universities across the US and compares them to the one

at Hampshire College, where Dickson himself is a professor. Even though no prior knowledge of

the program is required to understand Dickson’s publication, he is indeed writing for a specific

audience. His publication, written for an annual computer science colloquium, argues in favor of

using undergraduate TA’s in the computer science curriculum. Qualitative reasons in support of

the program allow Dickson to arrive at the conclusion that this program “will most likely benefit

any college that implements it”. Since this message is supposed to encourage the use of the

program in computer science curriculums, Dickson is targeting the Deans and Senior professors

of computer science departments, since only a few professors would be able to change their

schools’ policies. Most articles aimed at such small audiences will have a clear message about

the discipline, therefore, authors are required to have a strong knowledge of the kinds of research
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currently done in the field to argue for or against a particular program. To make an argument,

articles of this nature would have a strong conclusion, listing all of the pros or cons of a program

– a convention that is seen in almost every argumentative article. This publication will appear in

my final essay to show how particular writing conventions may appear throughout the discipline

regardless of what the publication’s topic is.

Source #2. Farghally, Mohammed F., et al. “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Algorithm Analysis

Visualizations.” Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on

Computer Science Education - SIGCSE '17, 2017, doi:10.1145/3017680.3017698.

This publication, also presented at the annual symposium on computer science education,

advocates use of a new way of visualizing algorithms in teaching computer science. Professors

Farghally, Shanin and Shaffer from Virginia Tech summarize their developments in effective

visualization, provide an example of how those could be applied in the classrooms, argue why

this improvement would enhance students’ learning, and present quantitative and qualitative data

in support of their argument. In contrast to the first publication, this one is aimed at a wider

audience, targeting potentially all computer science educators who are willing to improve their

teaching. Additionally, since the visualizations presented are relevant to specific topics in

computer science, more prior knowledge is needed to get the most benefit out of this research.

That includes specific sorting methods, the concept of code efficiency, and even the existing

methods of teaching those concepts to be able to compare and contrast them to the method

presented. The article builds on the previously completed research, mentions its authors and,

briefly, outcomes. This allows the authors to present the state a particular topic at the beginning

of research, and show everything else as new findings, and not just a proposal already
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established – a strategy that is seen throughout many publications. To emphasize how their

findings affect a particular topic, authors use models, graphs, and other visuals in their work,

which is becoming a convention among publications on topics that are easier to demonstrate

using visuals. Worth noting is the inclusion of the paragraph about student satisfaction with a

particular model, practice, or approach under examination. This showcases student satisfaction as

a valuable parameter at evaluating innovations in teaching, and how including quantitative data

about it to raise credibility is becoming a convention as well. I am going to use this publication

not only as an example of a research topic, but also to analyze how the writing conventions

found here apply to other works in the discipline, even if they are focused on entirely different

elements of teaching.

Source #3. Bezakova, Ivona, et al. “Board Game Strategies in Introductory Computer Science.”

Proceeding of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education -

SIGCSE '13, 2013, doi:10.1145/2445196.2445210.

In her publication for the 2013 annual Technical Symposium for Computer Science

Education, Bezakova presents her findings on several possible projects to complement students’

learning in the intro-computer science classes. In my opinion, the general state of computer

science at the time has led to this research, as professors were looking for ways to incorporate

new branches of the fast-growing field into their existing classes. Being a professor herself, she

writes to other professors looking for ways to improve their classes and argues why and how her

proposals are effective. Same as in the previous article, the audience is expected to be fluent in

basic computer science principles and terminology, but to get the most out of Bezakova’s

findings, one must be part of the teaching staff with the power to make changes to the
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curriculum. Ivona often references other authors and uses the results of their research in making

the games more relevant to the larger concepts in programming – a strategy that adds credibility

to her research and is seen in other publications as well. Another convention that Bezakova

follows is taking advantage of the visual tools available, such as diagrams and screenshots, to

illustrate her projects for better understanding. When Ivona discusses her own implementation of

games in the curriculum, she follows the convention of presenting students’ feedback in a new

way – by citing their course evaluations. This is a great example of how a convention may be

followed in many ways, depending on the author and their style, and is one of the reasons this

article was chosen for the final paper. Another reason would be the similarities in content and

writing with the previous papers considering different topics, which proves that conventions are

formed by genres and not specific works in them. This will present conventions as rules that help

thousands of teachers communicate more effectively and not just particular writers’ choices,

which I hope will strengthen my argument in the final essay.


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Arthur Gatin

Professor Fedorova

Writing 2

11 February 2019

Project Builder 5: Interview

Interviewer: Arthur Gatin

Interviewee: Diba Mirza, Ph.D. in Computer Science, UCSB

So, to get us started, the first question would be when and why did you get involved in

education in Computer Science?

It was toward the end of my post-doc as I got into teaching when I got aware of education in

computer science being a field, but I didn’t really get into it until I got a position here at UCSB.

UCSB or UCSD?

UCSB.

Ok. UCSB. I have read some of your publications on underwater systems from UCSD.

Yeah, it was mostly the underwater systems – that’s what I was doing at UCSD, and then I got

into teaching, but when I first started, I wasn’t really doing research in education, I was teaching,

but then once I’ve got my faculty position, that’s when I started getting into research on

education.

So when you got involved in education in computer science, you saw how many

publications there were much research was done on teaching, correct?


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Yes. Really, a lot of research is focused on teaching intro courses, but it also spans other things.

There are different areas: better pedagogy, designs of curriculums, research on K-12 education,

and all of this comes under computer science education.

So since all of this is relevant to you as a professor, how would you go about learning more

about education? Where would you find the recent studies, research that is being done,

maybe some of the innovations in teaching intro computer science courses?

So yeah – there is an organization, an outlet called ACM, you might be familiar with that,

Association of Computing Machinery, and in general CS research is published through there and

IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers], but then there are some very good

conferences that are really focused on CS Education research, and one of them is called SIGCSE,

I’m actually going to that conference this quarter, and then there are regional versions of

SIGCSE, where essentially educators get together and talk about pedagogy and present their

research, so those are the main outlets: there is SIGCSE, there is ICER, there is a bunch of

others. And also through my colleagues, and what we are interested in, that we learn about the

recent studies, but those are the main outlets.

It’s good that you’ve mentioned SIGCSE because that is a good introduction to the next

question. And I’m going to ask about the colloquiums as well. So how do you use

publications that you find wither at those conferences or through your colleagues in your

classroom?

That is a great question. It is not always easily transferrable like that. It informs my teaching for

sure, but there is a lot involved there. It is not as simple as just taking that and adding that to your

course. But for example, there is a lot of research done in peer instruction – clickers are a form of
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peer instruction – showing that when using peer instruction compared to the traditional way of

doing things, peer instructions really wins. Students do much better, and they learn much better,

and those kinds of things definitely inform my teaching, because research shows that it is the

right way to do. And there is also a lot of work on developing curriculums for, say, introductory

courses, so I definitely look at that and use that wherever it’s applicable, but for some of the

things you need to completely restructure the way you teach your class – it depends on how well

you can adapt to these new things, because it is tied to your style of teaching, everything. So, I

try to stay informed, and if I make sure that is I make choices in my class, that there is research

that supports those choices. All of those things have been studied, so if we do it in our

classrooms, it’s not just because I thought it was a great idea, usually, there is some research

done on it. The results are situational a little bit because a lot of factors are involved there.

Here is a very important question based on that but might not be the easiest one. When you

are looking through a publication, what are the things that you are looking for, what are

the areas that interest you in a publication, and what gives you an idea of how effective it is

and if you want to incorporate that into your teaching?

I would be really interested in the results section, and usually the beginning and the end. Like in

most research papers, in the beginning they set up their problem, they motivate it, and so on, and

towards the end they talk about what experiments they ran, and what results they got, and if that

looks interesting, I would look at their methodology – for CS it’s really important to have set up

the right methodology as you are dealing with human subjects. So, the beginning, end, and

methodology are what I primarily look for.

What are those publications about, primarily?


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You have all kinds of papers. You have papers that are simply experience reports like “I’ve tried

this thing in my class, and I thought it was interesting”, and then there are the more rigorous

research papers, with experiments, control groups with enough students, and compare the

outcome of when you didn’t do that intervention with when you actually did the intervention, so

that you’re making a more apples-to-apples comparison. You get all kinds.

So a bit about researchers. One of the researchers that I think you have as a role model, or

at least respect in the field, is Andries van Dam. You mentioned him as a professor at

Brown University. What do you think makes his publications so effective and why are they

important to study?

Interesting that you’ve brought that up because actually Andie has not published in CS Education

research that much, and that is common in computer science education. Right now, I think, he

has one paper on tutors which I’ve put up. See, that’s the thing with CS Education research –

there are three groups: folks who are not actively doing research, but they are interested because

they want to use it in their classrooms and teach better, there are folks who are primarily

teachers, but are also doing some research on the side because it keeps it interesting for them,

and they can study the things they do in the class and see if they are effective or not, and then

there are pure researchers, we have some of those, who are really interested in the CS Education

research, but are not into teaching so much. And there you find those you have really good

educators, who are very effective in the classroom, but who have not necessarily published or

written papers on it. So Andie is one of those people, I think. He is a father of graphics, and he’s

published a lot on that but hasn’t published in CS Education that much. However, he did start

this awesome tutor program, that’s why it was really interesting to me.
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Does UCSB contain CS Educations of all those three groups? How do you interact with the

community revolving around CS Education within UCSB?

So UCSB has people in other departments who are interested in this space, but not in Computer

Science. Within CS, there aren’t that many of us – it used to be one person who was running it,

now it’s grown to three, maybe it will grow some more. So for us it’s really important to attend

these conferences, and that’s where we connect with other people like us but from other

universities, so it’s mostly the conferences where we make that connection, and then here we

have a really small group, but it’s really cool, and for example, I get together every Thursday for

two or three hours with the other folks, and we read papers, and we are writing one right now, so

we work on that.

On education in computer science?

Yes. On tutors.

Great! Are you planning on publishing it, or submitting to one of the conferences?

Yes.

Awesome! Now it’s time to talk about the colloquium which those papers are usually

presented at, the technical one.

Yes, so that is the conferences, they happen multiple times every year, SIGCSE, as I said, is one

of them, around 1000 people show up from all over the US, and they meet there, and so on.

They meet and present their research, their findings on education, right?

Yes. Usually, you write a paper, you submit it, and if it gets accepted, you go and present. And

it’s true for all other areas of Computer Science as well.


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You have mentioned that a paper needs to be accepted. I looked it up, and the average

acceptance rate for papers for that specific conference, SIGCSE, is about 35%. What do

you think might determine if a publication gets through the filters?

So, it’s really the innovations and the results, and their methodology. SIGCSE has been evolving

as well. It used to and it still tries to attract as many people from across the country as possible

who are working in education, because it’s more about the community and the conversations that

people have when they are there, so even if I don’t have a publication, I’ve been going to

SIGCSE for the past couple of years. Now they are clearer guidelines as to what gets accepted,

and on which track. As I said, there are two tracks in Computer Science education, and one of

them is the experience report track, where you don’t need to do rigorous experimental empirical

research to establish that a certain hypothesis is true or not. You can write about what you do and

inform the community and start a conversation around it. And there is another track with a more

rigorous research, and they judge you on all kinds of things – is the question that you are asking

interesting, is it well motivated, have you read other related works and connecting to that related

work, are you aware of how you would position your idea in this space of ideas – and that is true

for all research in CS. Did you go in with a specific question in mind, and was it not that

concrete, how did you actually carry out the work, what was your methodology, are there any

threat to validity that you could think of. Your results may not be very reliable just because there

are too many variables, and things you can control and can’t control, so how well have you

thought through all of it, and the discussion, the writing about it, for example, “This is what I

did, this was my best effort, but you might want to take these results with a pinch of salt because

this and this and that was not in my control, and this might have affected my results”, and then
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are the results interesting. All of those criteria are used essentially to determine the quality of a

publication by a conference’s committee, and they try to reach a consensus on that.

Brilliant! Now a question on the effects of those publications. I have talked to one of the

experienced tutors in Computer Science, Dylan, and he told me that when the program

[Undergraduate tutors in Computer Science] just started, it was very different from its

current state, so did recent publications on undergraduate teaching assistants in computer

science influence the program at UCSB, and who gets to decide which results can be

applied to the program?

Great question! So a paper I’m writing right now tries to study all the stuff that has been written

on undergraduate tutors and TAs. It’s not a very well-studied area, I think it’s an important area,

but it’s hard to study – too many variables are involved. If you go out there and look for

programs that use undergraduate tutors, they will say that they are awesome, we wouldn’t have

done this without them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the universities such as

Stanford, Berkeley, Brown, San Diego, that have a long history with those programs have

actually studied them or written papers about them. We are slowly looking at the lay of the land,

seeing what practices we want to adopt, what experiments we should run, so it’s not fully

established. You would think that it’s a done deal, that so much research would tell you exactly

what to do with tutors in education, but that’s not the case right now.

Does that mean that it was hard for you to select, or, rather, handpick the publications on

undergraduate teaching assistants for 190J? [CS 190J – a tutoring class at UCSB]
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So that was actually a group effort – me and professor Conrad, we went and searched the entire

literature on undergraduate tutors because of this paper we are writing. But it wasn’t hard to find

those – there are keywords and digital libraries that make it possible.

Just to clarify – did you select the best ones [publications] or the ones that related best to

the topic? Did you have a bigger pool of the papers to choose from?

We did have a bigger pool, so we narrowed it down to some extent, but it’s not a space in which

there are millions and millions of papers, and so ended up putting most of them, most of what we

thought was most related to the topic. And also, it’s hard to say what’s the best at this point [of

research].

I think we have covered all the questions. Maybe, a finishing one: I did not know that you

were collaborating with other professors on writing your own research paper, so which

writing practices will you employ to make it more effective? Maybe it is too early to ask,

but what will your paper be like in that sense?

So this is a literature review, but this is a what it’s called a structured literature review, which is

reading all the papers that exist and have a discussion on what is out there, and what the state is

on those topics. It’s really more than summarizing the papers, you really have to see how the

papers are related, and discuss them, revealing interesting results. We are going in with some

research question we want answered from reading these other papers, and essentially they are

what are the practices around undergraduate tutors, what are the reported benefits about

undergraduate tutor programs, how would the students, instructors, and institutions benefit from

those, and, lastly, what are the research questions that people have actually studied in the space,

and what the future questions might be.


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Arthur Gatin

Professor Fedorova

Writing 2

13 February 2019

WP 2: Working Draft

Education in computer science is one of the oldest disciplines in a very modern field. One

of the higher education institutions that pioneered teaching computer science was Purdue

University. The department, according to the university’s website, was established in 1962, but it

wasn’t until the 1970’s that the faculty reached 10 members. Other universities across the nation

share similar timelines for the formations of computer science departments, which marks the

beginning of education in computer science. Ever since then, the faculty members across the

globe were collaborating on creating publications of how to be more effective and sharing then

within their discourse community. Eventually, it has shaped the field and created certain writing

conventions used up to today. In the current net of ideas, computer science educators build on

existing work, acknowledge the contextuality of their studies, and reflect on students’ feedback

to make their publications more effective and make a difference in the discipline.

First, let’s examine how and why referencing and developing from others’ work is

common and encouraged in computer science education. While it is a relatively common writing

practice among academics in various fields, it has a greater importance specifically in computer

science education. One of the main reasons for it is the fact that computer science education has
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a closed set of topics, and almost 50 years of research has made it increasingly difficult to find a

paper that would unravel something previously unseen. Most of the recent publications on

education in computer science either summarize teaching experience using a particular program

or curriculum feature, criticize and improve existing teaching strategies, or, sometimes, provide

an overview of the current state of research on any topic.

Professor Ivona Bezakova’s publication on board games in introductory computer science

courses presents an excellent example of how references may be used in such publications. Early

in the paper, Bezakova establishes why such research was relevant – “Previous research has

demonstrated that learning to program in context increases student motivation [23, 24]”. This

allows the audience to get an idea of what has motivated her research, provides related work to

investigate further, and illustrates how her results may be applied in the classroom. Other

references serve a different purpose, providing examples of existing games that were used by

Bezakova as models for creating her own: “Summet, et al. [27] proposed an interesting context

for CS1 centered around programming robot strategies: their students implemented various robot

behaviors, using physical robot devices”, “On the other hand, player strategies for games like

Tic-Tac-Toe are a favorite topic in introductory artificial intelligence courses [9]”. Overall, it

adds significant value to the paper by demonstrating that it is not simply as an experience report,

but a careful study and addition to existing knowledge. Diba Mirza, Ph.D., professor of

Computer Science at UCSB and a CS Education researcher, considers citations one of the

primary characteristics of a successful writing paper. According to her, a good publication would

have a well-defined place in the existing space of ideas around computer science education. This

is achieved by connecting a paper to previously conducted research, and, according to Mirza, is

one of the currently used criteria used to select the best papers for computer science conferences.
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Experiments inspired by previous works on the topic do not make a publication great on

their own. Diba Mirza states that for her, as a reader and teaching professor, the result section of

the paper is often even more important than the details about conducted experiments. She adds

that the context in which an experiment was run is also a crucial part of a successful paper,

because it helps educators decide whether the results of a publication could be repeated or

applied in a classroom. The acknowledgement of a specific context an experiment was ran in,

and analysis of what variables could have influenced the results have also become a convention

in education in computer science and could be found in works of a wide range of topics.

Paul Dickon’s paper on the use of undergraduate teaching assistants is a good example of

how one could acknowledge the context of an experiment and use that to predict the results of a

similar experiment if it were replicated in some other place. Dickson, professor at Hampshire

College, compares the results of using undergraduate tutors in computer science classrooms

among very different schools, including Brown, Stanford, and UC Irvine. Each of those

institution is unique in terms of student body, number of students, and size of a computer science

departments, so similar results between all of those schools’ results allow Dickson to conclude

that neither of those parameters is a criterion for this experiment. He ends his essay by

mentioning that according to the existing programs in undergraduate teaching and their results,

any university is able to benefit from adding the program to its curriculum. Even though Dickson

never separates schools into those that would benefit and those that wouldn’t, the potential effect

of the context is acknowledged, and reduced by choosing significant pool of schools to observe

and compare. A discussion about validity of the results and potential variables that might have

influenced the outcome, is required for the audience to determine whether their community

would be able to benefit or get similar results. This, according to Mirza, significantly improves
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the quality of a paper, and, with conferences becoming more and more selective in their choice

of papers, has become a convention among published works in computer science education.

Although computer science in general is not focused around academic writing, computer

science education is a growing field that contains a very significant amount of information on

how to be a more successful teacher. Members of the academic have over the years created many

writing conventions that make it easier to convey information within the discourse community.

Referencing previous research, acknowledging the context of a particular study, and paying

attention to students’ feedback are some of the techniques used in the community of academics

to effectively share knowledge, and make computer science more understandable and enjoyable

for students.
Gatin 23

Arthur Gatin

Professor Fedorova

Writing 2

21 February 2019

Writing Conventions That Have Shaped Computer Science Education

Education is often the first discipline to emerge in a new field, and computer science is

no exception. One of the institutions that pioneered teaching computer science was Purdue

University. Their department, according to the university’s website, was established in 1962, but Commented [MOU3]: Specify the department

it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the faculty reached 10 ten members. Other universities across the Commented [MOU4]: Try to avoid using contractions in
academic writing.
nation share a similar timeline for the formation of computer science departments, which marks Commented [MOU5]: No apostrophe. 1910s, 1920s etc.
Commented [MOU6]: Numbers under ten should be
the beginning of education in computer science. Ever since then, faculty members across the spelled out.

globe have been collaborating on creating publications on increasingto increase effectiveness of

their teaching and shareing them within their discourse community. These events have forever Commented [MOU7]: It – you’re talking about
effectiveness
changed the field and created certain writing conventions used today. In the current net of ideas, Commented [MOU8]: What events? (This process?)

computer science educators build on existing work, acknowledge the context of their studies, and

reflect on student feedback to make their publications more effective and make a significant

difference in the discipline. Commented [MOU9]: Отлично!! This thesis is effective in


so many ways: it gives a road map, it makes a statement,
and it explains why it is significant to talk about this topic.
One defining feature of publications in CS Education is their extreme reliance on other Commented [MOU10]: Hmm.. I’m not sure if you need to
use this word.
works. Although it is a relatively common writing practice among academics in various fields, it

has greater importance specifically in Computer Science education. One of the main reasons for Commented [MOU11]: Be concise.

it is the fact that CS education has a closed set of topics, and almost 50 years of research has

made it increasingly difficult to find a paper that would unravel something previously unseen. As
Gatin 24

a result, according to Diba Mirza, Ph.D., professor of Computer Science at UCSB and a CS

Education researcher, modern publications in computer science education are divided into three

major groups. They either summarize teaching experience using a particular program or

curriculum feature, review and make suggestions to existing teaching strategies, or provide an

overview of the current state of research on any topic (personal communication, February 6,

2018). References to previous research or experiments are essential for papers from any group to

secure their place in the net of knowledge.

Professor Ivona Bezakova’s publication on board games in introductory computer science

courses presents an excellent example of how references may be used in such publications. Early Commented [MOU12]: Good transition.

in the paper, Bezakova establishes why such research was relevant – “Previous research has

demonstrated that learning to program in context increases student motivation [23, 24]”

(Bezakova 17). This statement allows the audience to get an idea of what has motivated her

research, provides related work to investigate further, and illustrates how her results may be Commented [MOU13]: I’m not sure what you mean.

applied in the classroom. Other references serve a different purpose, providing examples of

existing games that were used by Bezakova as models for creating her own: “Summet, et al. [27]

proposed an interesting context for CS1 centered around programming robot strategies: their

students implemented various robot behaviors, using physical robot devices” (Bezakova 18).

Overall, it adds significant value to the paper by demonstrating that it is not simply an experience

report, but a careful study and valuable addition to existing knowledge.

Diba Mirza considers citations to be one of the primary characteristics of a successful

paper. According to her, a good publication would have a well-defined place in the existing

space of ideas around computer science education. This goal is achieved by connecting a paper

to previously conducted research, and, according to Mirza, is one of the currently used criteria
Gatin 25

used to select the best papers for computer science conferences (personal communication, Commented [MOU14]: This sentence needs some revision.
I feel like it has multiple clauses and, thus, it is a bit difficult
to read. What do you think?
February 6, 2018). However, references would not make experiments successful on their own.
Commented [MOU15]: What is the purpose of this
paragraph?
Observation shows that successful papers are also more likely to demonstrate the context I think that you can develop your discussion of citations a bit
more. Why do scholars cite? How does it help you as a
student? How does it help other scholars who do similar
of their experiments and results. The reason for this case is that in Computer Science education, research?

one cannot just apply results from a study to a different environment without adjustments, says

Mirza (personal communication, February 6, 2018). The context of an experiment matters, and

its acknowledgment helps determine whether results of a publication could be repeated or

applied in a different classroom. A mention of the context an experiment was ran in and analysis

of variables that could have influenced the results have also become a convention in CS

education publications and could be found in works of a wide range of topics.

Paul Dickson’s paper on the use of undergraduate teaching assistants is a good example

of how one could acknowledge the context of a study and use that to predict the results of a

similar future experiment. Dickson, professor at Hampshire College, compares the results of

using undergraduate tutors in computer science classrooms among very different schools,

including Brown, Stanford, and UC Irvine. Each of those institutions is unique in terms of

student body, the number of students, and size of computer science departments, so similar

results between all of those schools’ results allow Dickson to conclude that neither of those

parameters determines the outcome. He ends finishes his essay by mentioning that, according to

the existing programs in undergraduate teaching and their results, any university is able to

benefit from adding the program to its curriculum (Dickson 79). Even though Dickson never

separates schools into those that would benefit and those that would not, he acknowledged

acknowledges the context of his experiments and chooses a pool of diverse institutions that

allowed allows him to suggest that the outcome is systematic. A discussion about the validity of
Gatin 26

the results and potential variables that might have influenced the outcome is required for the

audience to determine whether their community would be able to benefit or get similar results.

This, according to Mirza, significantly improves the quality of a paper, and, with conferences

becoming more and more selective in their choice of papers, has become another convention

among published works in computer science education (personal communication, February 6,

2018). However, widely applicable educational theories that the academics agree on are not

helpingdo not help the CS departments across the country solve one of their most pressing

problems.

In the publication titled “Reversing the Landslide in Computer-Related Degree

Programs,”, Irma Becerra-Fernandez explored explores the decline in interest in computer

science as a specialty. Her data shows that the number of Bachelor’s degrees awarded was down

more than 15% in 2006, following a 13% decrease in 2005. More alarming is the fact that the

decline in enrollment in Computer Science was not as steep – students were simply losing

interest in the major. (Becerra-Fernandez 128) This trend resulted not only in rapid developments

in education and programs created, but also in a new popular writing convention emerged in CS

Education.

With data showing stagnation in enrollment and decrease in retention rates for Computer Commented [MOU16]: Combine?

Science students, educators seeked to reflect on student satisfaction in their publications to Commented [MOU17]: sought

increase their validity. Even today, in a new wave of interest towards the field, this writing

feature continues to exist to show how a program or teaching detail will increase students’

satisfaction with a course.

Joseph Cottam’s paper on undergraduate teaching assistants provides an example of how

such feedback might be collected and used in a publication: “Peer tutoring has been observed to
Gatin 27

improve both retention of individuals in the computer science program and student performance

in individual classes” (Cottam 218). Here, student retention, a form of student feedback, was

placed at the beginning of the results section, demonstrating its importance. Such placement in a

paper from 2011 provides evidence to suggest that, at the time, a question of student retention in

Computer Science was still somewhat urgent among academics. However, student feedback is

widely used in papers even after the “retention crisis” has ended. For example, Adrienne

Decker’s paper from 2019 contains student feedback collected on a much deeper level: “note that

the median line for the UTA semesters appears near the top of the box indicating a higher trend

of satisfaction with the UTA performance” (Decker 50). Here, Decker has used quantitative data

from surveys to determine students’ level of satisfaction with a particular program in her CS

department. These results play a big role in Decker’s argument in favor of using the said

program, suggesting that overwhelmingly positive student feedback is expected to substantiate

her argument.

Although Computer Science in general is not focused around academic writing,

Computer Science education is a growing field that contains a significant amount of information

on how to be a more successful teacher. , over the years Members of the academic community Commented [MOU18]: I think that this sentence should be
revised because it needs to focus on how writing is
important in the discipline despite the fact that it is not built
have , over the years, created writing conventions that make it easier to convey information around writing.

within the discourse community. Referencing previous research, acknowledging the context of a

particular study, and paying attention to student feedback are some of the practices often used in

the academic community to effectively share knowledge, and make computer science more

understandable and enjoyable for students.


Gatin 28

Works Cited

Becerra-Fernandez, Irma, et al. “Reversing the Landslide in Computer-Related Degree

Programs.” Communications of the ACM, vol. 53, no. 2, 2010, p. 127.,

doi:10.1145/1646353.1646387.

Bezakova, Ivona, et al. “Board Game Strategies in Introductory Computer Science.” Proceeding

of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education - SIGCSE '13,

2013, doi:10.1145/2445196.2445210.

Cottam, Joseph A., et al. “Tutoring for Retention.” Proceedings of the 42nd ACM Technical

Symposium on Computer Science Education - SIGCSE '11, 2011,

doi:10.1145/1953163.1953227.

Decker, Adrienne, et al. “Through the Looking Glass.” ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, vol. 38, no. 1,

2006, p. 46., doi:10.1145/1124706.1121358.

Dickson, Paul E. “Using Undergraduate Teaching Assistants in a Small College Environment.”

Proceedings of the 42nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education -

SIGCSE '11, 2011, doi:10.1145/1953163.1953187.

Mirza, Diba. Personal Interview. 6 Feb. 2018.