Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Multinational perspectives on the development and assessment of professional values in CS

Another part of the work which I am doing here at Southampton is concerned with professional education of our students who study Computer Science and Information Technology in Education. As well as actually doing the teaching its important to find time to develop some well considered bases for the approach which we take.

The SIGCSE community is one where the underpinning values of this part of their studies is considered. This year I am taking part in a working group which will be hosted at the annual ITiCSE conference, this year to be hosted in Paris at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6, France).

The working group is being led by Ursula Fuller and Bob Klein from The University of Kent, and it is titled Multinational perspectives on the development and assessment of professional values in CS. You can download a pdf of the original proposal here

Its one of a series of working groups at this year's conference the plan is to meet and write in the days immediately prior to the conference. Our report to the conference is scheduled for 11-11.45 on Wednesday 8th July, so its all pretty intensive.

Southampton input is coming from me and my colleague Diana Fitch who actually works in our careers service. Diana works very closely with our school. I find her help invaluable, she contributes to some of the teaching we do, hosts and organises special events for our students, as well as all the rest of her portfolio.

The group's work in progress is being supported by a group wiki. With so many thinks going on at work, its important for me to have loads of links to the background information, and we've scheduled regular meetings between Diana and myself to keep us on track.

First task is getting a survey of students experiences and beliefs. But at the same time I need to get my head round the literature, not too extensive, but all the more reason to know it back to front.

Apparently the seminal paper was developed a few years ago,

It seems to me that there is quite a lot of related reading, and a publications which have emerged following the work through. Documents which we will also be looking include:
  • The Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula. Computing Curricula 2001: Computer Science, 2001.
  • UK QAA subject benchmarking statements for Computing (2007)
  • Professional statements from the BCS and IET - both of whom accredit our degrees here at Southampton.
  • Information Technology 2008: Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree programs in Information Technology http://www.acm.org//education/curricula/IT2008%20Curriculum.pdf
Other more recent papers include

  • Fuller, Ursula and Keim, Bob. Should we assess our students' attitudes? Proceedings of the Seventh Baltic Sea Conference on Computing Education Research (Koli Calling 2007), Koli National Park, Finland, November 15-18, 2007, Raymond Lister and Simon, Eds, 2008.
  • Fuller, Ursula and Bob Keim, Assessing students' practice of professional values. Proceedings of the 13th annual conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education, Madrid, Spain, 2008, pp 88-92.
while some of the original foundations are going to have us skurrying over to the University Library ( and I know they are there because I have taken them out before!) - basically looking back to the original work on educational objectives looking at just two of the three domains - congnitive (the one we always quote) and affective (the one which comes up less often). I guess in the area of professional values I am happy to concede that the psycho-motor domain is going to be less important.
  • Bloom, B.S., Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H. and Krathwohl, D.R. 1956. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1 Cognitive Domain. Longmans, Green and Co Ltd, London.
  • Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S. and Masia, B.B. 1964.Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals. Handbook 2 Affective domain. McKay, New York.

Our work
There is a survey to be done of students attitudes and experiences, and some data to collect from employers too ( Diana's contacts are going to be very valuable here)

Overall, apart from way in which a better understanding of this area can trickle into the curriculum, there are a few external reasons why this will be important.

We want the work we do in our professional modules to be really valuable to the students. Also it relates to current developments and focus areas of eSkills, the HEA-ICS Advisory Board ( and the rest of their community) plus perhaps the CPHC-LDG.

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