A SIGCSE 2021 affiliated event organized by members of the SIGCSE Committee on Computing Education in Liberal Arts Colleges.
This event builds on priorities identified at our SIGCSE 2020 Pre-Symposium event, and will cover three major topics. We will again discuss uniquely liberal arts approaches to computing curricula through presentation of selected curricula. We will explore models and best practices for “CS+X” courses, considering what the outcomes should be for such courses in order to take both disciplines into balanced consideration. We will consider models for mentoring, recruiting and hiring PhD candidates and postdocs into computer science positions at liberal arts institutions.
The past year has led all of us to rethink and restructure our teaching in a variety of ways. The COVID-19 pandemic has most of us teaching in new and unexpected modalities, sometimes changing mid-semester. As instructors, disparities in the resources available to our students and in their personal situations have become more visible as they work to engage in our coursework or balance their education with other priorities. And increased attention on the impact of structural racism has challenged us to question our pedagogies and the underlying racism embedded in our own discipline.
For the first hour of this session, participants will share changes that they have made in their teaching, perhaps unplanned or half-developed, that they are excited to continue and develop further, with conversation then moving into breakout rooms focused on common themes. The session will close with a discussion of what priorities the liberal arts computing community has for the coming year and how the Committee can help support their work.
Computing education in the context of the liberal arts presents unique challenges related to institutional and disciplinary priorities, pressures and needs. But it also affords unique opportunities. This session will examine some of those challenges and explores curricular innovations both well-developed and more preliminary for how to meet them. The session will begin with a 30-minute panel, where specific challenges and curricular solutions submitted by the community will be presented for discussion. Session participants will identify a short list of challenges to be discussed further, and will join breakout rooms for 20 minutes to better understand the challenge and gather ideas and examples of how that challenge is being or could be addressed. Breakout groups will report back to the entire group for the next 10 minutes. The final 30 minutes of the session will be an open conversation on how the Committee can facilitate ongoing collaboration among the liberal arts computing education community to address challenges and to disseminate solutions to the wider community.
As computing and its capabilities have made continual advancements, more fields have access to computing and are using computing to investigate complex problems. These advancements have increased demand for CS+X content. This content ranges from interdisciplinary curricula to guide students to explore how computing can be incorporated into different fields to standalone courses that combine the learning of computer science (the “CS”) with the learning of other fields (the “+X”). Some efforts are ad hoc and vary from students learning to use computing tools to probe “X” content, to instructors using “X” as the context to teach or demonstrate computing content. This workshop aims to establish a framework through which instructors can describe and/or develop fully integrated CS+X experiences for students majoring in computer science and other disciplines. There will be two breakout sessions, one facilitated by faculty in computer science and another who is not. Attendees will be encouraged to explore and brainstorm how to best accomplish this task from multiple perspectives. This workshop ends with a discussion to synthesize all the concepts/findings and develop core principles for a framework that instructors can use to develop effective “CS+X” courses that satisfy the learning goals and outcomes for students in both computer science and other disciplines.
Recruiting CS faculty to liberal arts colleges is a perennial challenge. In this session, we will discuss proposals for improving mentoring, recruiting, and hiring of candidates for positions at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). A panel session will include four proposals: (1) a PUI-focused professional development workshop for graduate students and other job seekers; (2) co-sponsorship of teaching-focused workshops at top-tier research conferences; (3) a distributed mentoring program for PUI job applicants; (4) coordination of offer dates to accommodate candidates applying to both liberal arts colleges and research-intensive universities. The panel will be followed by breakout groups to consider possible implementations of these proposals or others.
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