Bits and Behavior
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Bits and Behavior

A photograph of the SIGCSE 20222 registration desk at a sharp angle.
The registration desk / meeting ground.

SIGCSE 2022 Trip Report: Reunited

Two years ago I was on a train to Portland, Oregon in an N-95 mask I had from an old painting project. My car was nearly empty, but a couple boarded in Olympia and sat in the seats next to me. I moved to the other side of the car and they looked at me confused. I was frantically reviewing slides, as over the past week, more than a dozen colleagues had reached out to see if I was still going to SIGCSE 2020 and if so, if I’d be willing to present their work for them. I’d said yes, mostly out a sense of duty: I had a lot to do at the conference and others were in more vulnerable positions, so I figured I would just take on the load and make the most of what was sure to be a strange week.

When I arrived, I saw the organizers in the lobby of the main conference hotel; they had dire looks on their faces. Everyone in the lobby seemed nervous and on edge. I continued to wear my mask, while I encountered old friends in the lobby. I went out to dinner with colleagues and had the strong sense that this was the last time I’d be in a restaurant for a while.The next morning, the conference was canceled and I took a train back home.

Nothing would ever be the same.

Two years later, I’m here on a flight to Boston, headed to the the 2022 SIGCSE Technical Symposium. Many of the same feelings are at play: I’m a bit nervous, travelers on edge, and no one is quite sure what the conference is going to be like. But there is a sense that it will happen and that it will be safe. But also that it won’t be the same. Many in our community aren’t ready to take the risk and will be participating remotely. And who can actually attend — with travel approval, with sufficient funding, with the freedom to step away from teaching — is a very different group than those likely attending online. I don’t think anyone expects it to be a return to SIGCSE 2019, rich and vibrant in cold Minneapolis. But I think all people are looking for is a small dose of social time with friends and some time away from the home office, while cases are on the decline, vaccinations hold, and war emerges in Eastern Europe.

My week is no less busy than it was going to be in 2020. In numbers, I’m co-running two workshops, supporting three students giving papers, presenting on three panels, and chairing one session. I’ll do it all behind a mask while tending to fragile battery-powered links between physical and virtual worlds. But I will do with a sense of community and perhaps a fleeting freedom to visit, travel, and connect around our collective special interest of learning, teaching, community, and computing.

A view of an Ohyay room showing slides, breakouts, Amy’s face in front of the room.
Me running hybrid logistics at the CRA-E teaching faculty workshop.

Wednesday: Workshops

On Wednesday, I co-organized two workshops, both hybrid. The first was the CRA-E Teaching-Track Faculty Workshop, which was part of my studies as a board member of the Computing Research Association Education Committee. The goal of the workshop is to bring together teaching track faculty at research universities, to offer them community, mentorship, and guidance as they navigate supporting their institutions teaching missions amidst a research culture.

We had about 30 attendees. We focused the morning on surfacing needs and questions in small groups, and then the afternoon on generating guidance and answers, with the ultimate goal of generating a draft FAQ for the CRA-E website. The vision was that even if only a small group could attend the SIGCSE workshop, a much larger group might benefit from the public resource. Most of the discussions focused on promotion, work/life balance, curriculum design, hiring, the many equity and power imbalance issues relative to tenure-track faculty, and the chilling effect of conservative politics on talking about CS, ethics, and capitalism. The hybrid group did a great job working through the inevitable friction of hybrid collaboration and produced an exceptionally rich collection of insights, questions, and answers, and a first draft of a truly helpful FAQL We hope to organize and share a polished version of the FAQ soon.

A photograph of Amy in front of a group of 25 at round tables listening to a presentation.
The in-person part of our hybrid group, listening to 11 short presentations on teaching about accessibility in CS courses.

Immediately after the CRA-E workshop, I co-organized a Teaching Accessibility in Computing workshop, as part of my role on AccessComputing. Our goal with this workshop was to bring together faculty who teach about accessibility in computing education contexts, as well as faculty who are interested in doing so. We had more than 40 educators register and had 13 presentations that spanned a broad range of integrations of accessibility and computer science topics. It was so impressive to see such an expansive and creative ideas for integrating accessibility and disability justice into CS learning!

After the workshops, I organized a small dinner outing with the University of Washington faculty and staff. Normally, I wouldn’t have spent much time with folks at my own university, but many of us hadn’t seen each other in two years since the pandemic lockdowns and many of the students were first time attendees. And so we gathered, talked about the hidden curriculum of academic conference attendance, and discussed the many new challenges and opportunities coming with a hybrid format.

A selfie of me in front of hundreds of attendees.
A quick selfie before the plenary!

Thursday: Keynote, Presentations, Panels, and BoFs

In the morning of the first day, I attended the speakers breakfast to meet up with my wonderful students Mara, Jayne, and Megumi to wish them well, as well as to say hi to old friends and coordinate my own day’s sessions.

The conference kickoff was celebratory: the organizers proudly declared SIGCSE 2022 the inaugural hybrid conferences, never again excluding attendees who cannot travel. After the usual thanks to the organizing committee and sponsors, some SIGCSE board announcements, and some hilarious accidental interruptions from unmuted remote attendees, we dug into the hybrid the logistics. We used Pathable this year to host the agenda; some events were pure in-person, some were pure virtual, and others were hybrid. One new addition was “Authors Corner”, which made recorded virtual presentations and authors available at periods across many time zones, so that both in-person and virtual attendees could meet authors and discuss their work. I considered this a sort of “hybrid light”, where there were two separate experiences for online and in-person attendees, each designed around the affordances that were feasible to implement at scale.

Judy Sheard and Brian Dorn, the year’s program chairs, recognized the program committee and described the program, which included more than 144 papers and more than 200 other kinds of submissions, including posters, lightning talks, demo. birds of a feather sessions, workshops, special sessions, panels, and nifty assignments. They also recognized best papers for each of the three tracks (congratulations Jayne and Megumi!) Overall, 1,518 registered to attend, about half in-person and half online.

Barbara Liskov on Zoom with a slide titled “My Background”
Barbara kciks off her talk from her kitchen.

To kick off the program, we had a keynote from Barbara Liskov, a pioneer in operating systems, distributed computing, and programming languages. Her talk was titled “Reflections on Programming Methodology”. She started talking about her accidental pathway from math to programming before there were computer science degrees. She started off programming in FORTRAN and assembly at various industry and academic jobs, then went to Stanford to get a PhD, working with John McCarthy in AI. She didn’t get any faculty job offers, and went back to industry as a researcher, pivoting from AI to systems, and worked on computer architecture and time-sharing. She then talked about the shift from low-level languages with goto statement to structured languages, of program design methodologies, and of modularity, and the dawn of modules. When she moved to MIT as faculty, there were only 10 women of 1,000 faculty; she focused her research on trying to develop ideas of abstract data types, which encapsulated data and operations on that data. She then worked hard on developing a programming language for these ideas, bringing together type checking, structured programming, and modularity, which led her to start looking at the work on Smalltalk. While the keynote was a great historical note on the origins of programming language foundations, but it didn’t speak to the audience’s concerns of teaching, learning, equity, and inclusion.

An angle shot of the panelists and projector screen.
The panelists kick off the subjectivity discussion.

After a lively break talking about the radical abolitionist premises of culturally responsive computing with a few higher education faculty, I went to a panel on the subjectivity of CS education research data. Monica McGill led the session, and set the stage to discuss the illusion of objectivity. To my surprise, she actually used one of my tweets from November as part her framing:

My offhand tweet about subjectivity.

So obviously, I came to the panel with a prior position, well in support of the panel topic. But I want to get a sense of the community’s reaction to these ideas and probe further on just how receptive the community might be to much more skeptically engaging data. Jean Ryoo spoke next with a quote from Lev Vgotsky: “A mind cannot be independent of culture.” Her idea here was that everything about our thinking, including our data, instruments, and interpretations are infused with cultural subjectivity. She argued that we should be aware of our subjectivity in our efforts to be objective, taking an interpretivist stance on methods, and arguing that embracing subjectivity can increase rigor. Allison Scott spoke next and talked about her positionality, structural notions of inequality, and intersectionality, and their incompatibility with notions of objectivity, as they are all inherently about subjectivity. Chris Stephenson approached the topic as a funder and reviewer; she talked about the historical gaps in the nascent field of computing education research, the problem of anecdotes and generalizability in early work, and the poor rigor of our qualitative methods. Jayce Warner talked about subjectivity in quantitative data: he demonstrated how much interpretation is actually involved in data analysis by examining representation statistics from two different lenses.

I asked the professional development question: where will our community learn to do research rigorously, while advancing our epistemologies? Chris argued that we should do it all: professional development at workshops, doctoral education, tenure track hiring, collaboration with education researchers. Monica talked about the role of resources like Jean Ryoo talked about just always learning new methods and perspectives, like the vulnerable observer, indigenous ways of knowing, critical race theory. My postdoc Jean Salac talked about the tensions of multiple epistemologies, especially in navigating a career; Jayce talked about the importance of purposefully acknowledging the epistemologies we choose and why. Mara Kirdani-Ryan talked about the need of researchers to “unravel” themselves in order to understand their subjectivity and the type of resistance researchers might face in embracing these methods. Jean Ryoo talked about the importance of community in shaping that growth. Chris talked about how excruciating it was to have to discuss her positionality; her advisor said “This is the debt we owe to the people we study. They’re giving themselves up to you and you need to do the same.” One attendee shared an idea about people at the end of their professional careers can learn to engage in computing education research.

A laptop showing my online co-panelists and the growing audience.
My view from the panelist table.

After a quick meeting to plan a Dagstuhl workshop and a quick bite with Joanna Goode and Max Skorodinsky, a served on the Gender and Belonging Panel, which included me Lyn Swackhamer (NCWIT), Edie Cheng (NCWIT), students Hana Memon (Barnard College) and Shira Wein (Georgetown), and myself. We spent much of the panel talking about the positive experiences that Hana and Shira had had as students and the need for more belonging. I tried to balance that by talking about abuses of power, harassment, assault, microaggressions, and other ubiquitous experiences of marginalized students and faculty in CS. My last comment, and perhaps the most spicy, was when someone asked what they could do as a teacher to make their classroom a safe space, and I just said “fire the asshole teachers, remove the asshole students.” I got some laughs, some claps, and some looks of horror for that one…

While I was on this panel, my students Jayne Everson (UW) and Megumi Kivuva (Bard College) presented their award-winning research paper, “A key to reducing inequities in like, AI, is by reducing inequities everywhere first”: Emerging Critical Consciousness in a Co-Constructed Secondary CS Classroom. I wasn’t there for it, but I’m fascinated by our discoveries, which found that making space for critical, political conversations about computing with adolescents may require developing trust by talking about the political nature of education systems themselves, as these, more than anything else, are the primary shared experience with oppression that all students have.

Kevin sitting in a chair by the podium listening to and watching his video.
Kevin Lin kicks off his talk with a narrated video.

The next session I attended was the “Counternarratives” session, which included a talk by my colleague Kevin Lin, PhD student Victoria Dean (Carnegie Mellon), and my PhD student Mara Kirdani-Ryan gave several talks on ways of teaching computing critically. Kevin talked about the essential need for justice-focused computing education, drawing upon several different perspectives to argue for teaching data and algorithms in social and political terms. He encouraged everyone to think expansively and creativity about ways to do this through integration and not see it as either/or. He gave us some time to chat about these topics with colleagues in the session, which was very revealing to people’s interests in trying these, but also fears about student resistance.

Victoria spoke next, on Teaching Ethics by Teaching Ethics Pedagogy: A Proposal for Structural Ethics Intervention. She presented a full length course that’s an ethics module design course, learning about ethics by collaborating with faculty to integrate ethics modules into their courses. They taught pedagogy, with the theory that learning by teaching would help them understand ethics more deeply. They taught surveillance, labor, bias, safety, trust, autonomy, military, and more. A central part of their course is offering pedagogical feedback on students’ module designs. Students particularly enjoyed the pedagogical discussions they had with each other, but wanted more contemporary views on computing and society.

A floor shot of Mara at the podium and a projector screen with the title “The House of Computing”.
Mara begins their talk on the House of Computing.

Ending the session was my Ph.D. student Mara, who talked about their integration of counternarratives into hardware/software interface courses. Mara talked about a novel metaphor of the “house of computing”, a history of computer architecture as a home built long ago, some of it still intact, other parts decaying, and with many different prior residents, each who had made renovations to meet their needs and values. Mara gave a virtuosic presentation, engaging the audience with humor, visions, and rich examples of their experience bringing counternarratives to an advanced CS course. By the end, the session was standing room only.

The presenters at a podium talking about the need to talk about identity.

After the session, I went to the identity-inclusive computing birds of a feather session, where we talked in small groups about our efforts to make change in computing culture and the barriers and challenges we’ve faced in doing so. I learned a lot about the many challenges that students, faculty, researchers, and organizers face in pursuing inclusion. My second and last birds of a feather session was on disability, which I co-organized with Richard Ladner, Stacy Branham, Brianna Blaser, and Sheryl Burgstahler. We had about 15 attendees in this later session, which was just before the conference reception.

Barb Ericson receives our outstanding contributions award.

Friday: Plenary Panel Panel Panel

I woke up early Friday for breakfast and had a lively conversation with Michelle Friend, Judy Sheard, Brian Dorn, and Kristen Stephens-Martinez about research capacity issues in the field and how to grow it, especially for reviewing. We talked about many of the past efforts in this space and how they had such a great impact in engaging teaching faculty in research, but also the limits of short workshops and multi-year, low-bandwidth collaborations. There were no easy answers here: research education simply takes time, often many years.

After breakfast, I attended the plenary, which celebrated many in the community such as Stephen Edwards, Tracy Camp, and Joanna Goode for their scholarly contributions, but particularly the broad and impactful contributions of Barbara Ericson. Barb gave the morning keynote and talked about her pathway to CS, which had been catalyzed by a programming course in high school and her mother’s encouragement. She worked at an amazing flurry of organizations, including Bell, General Motors, and Institute of Paper Science, Clark Atlanta University, and NCR, spanning user interfaces, cars, medical imaging, and more. Finally, she ended up at Georgia Tech as a teacher and director of outreach, which eventually led her to pursue a PhD and become a professor at the University of Michigan. What drove her through all of this was paying forward the early access that she had.

A major part of her work was Georgia Computes, which included teacher professional development, summer camps, curriculum development, programming competitions, and policy work. She shared many inspiring examples of what youth created in their camps and competitions, showing the rich variety of creative opportunities in programming. She shared her work on Media Computation with Mark Guzdial, her efforts to track impact through AP CS A participation, her efforts to address racial diversity with Rise Up 4 CS for marginalized groups. And she discussed her projects on interactive e-books and embedded Parson’s problems to help scaffold teachers’ development of CS content knowledge. Once Barb started as a professor, she began several new projects, including log analyses on e-books, a collaboration with Mobile CSP on e-books, investigations into spaced practice, conversational programmers with Kathryn Cunningham, cognitive load with Carl Haynes-Magyar, several new explorations into Parson’s problems with other students, and some work on understanding students’ desire for discussions of critical perspectives about data.

Barb ended with a discussion of her future plans. She wants to continue focusing on increasing access through ebooks and to increase success through active learning. She’s also really interested in adaptive techniques that find meaningful ways to offer support in the context of practice platforms. She ended with a reflection on how important nudges are to encourage people to try computing.

After the break, I served on a panel Setting the Table for Equity: A Leadership Model for Broadening Participation in Computing, where we talked about our work on national K-12 CS education policy and equity efforts. Josh Childs led the conversation, and I joined with Crystal Franklin (Cleveland State), Lien Diaz (Georgia Tech), and Sarah Dunton (ECEP Alliance). Josh asked us several questions, as did the audience, and our conversation covered a lot of ground, from representation, equity, justice, access, leadership, burnout, corporate influence, recruiting, stereotyping, and at the heart of all of these, trust, respect, and relationships.

I should have gone to lunch with new and old colleagues, but instead I had to join for an administrative meeting to help disentangle some challenging hiring, teaching assignment, and TA policy issues back at my institution. (Oh the irony of spending the past two days talking about fighting for equity and justice, and then doing the same back home immediately after!)

The panel describes the incredible importance of supporting K-12 CS educators.

After, I found some hallway conversations and then joined for another panel (this time in the audience!), titled The Needs of K-12 Computer Science Educators towards Building an Inclusive Classroom: Implications for Policy. Led by Kalisha Davis (Kapor Center), Sonya Koshy (Kapor Center), Allison Scott (Kapor Center) and Bryan Twarek (CSTA), the panel reported on the 2021 CS Teacher Report and had a panel discussion about its implications. The report was based on a long survey with 3,693 PreK-12 CS teachers in 2020. Courses taught were quite diverse, some standalone, some integrated, some AP, some not. Most were white Women. Less than a third had a CS related degree and almost none had a CS credential. Very few had access to community, coaching, or resources. Students reported challenges serving English-language learning and achieving diverse participation. And most felt that curricula needed to discuss inequity in class. The panel suggested incentives to recruit, retain, and diversify teachers, to build comprehensive teacher education programs, to prioritize CS as a core course, and to build school-level buy-in. Bryan shared several CSTA resources for addressing some of these gaps, such as the ELL programs and Equity Fellows program creating resources to support teachers. The biggest surprise for me — and the most disheartening — was that nearly 40% of CS teachers didn’t believe that talking about algorithmic and data bias was important to teach. Allison in particular called for more integration of CS equity and justice issues in pre-service programs; I’m proud to share that this is exactly what we’re doing in our new pre-service secondary CS teacher education program, and that our state advocacy team, CS for All Washington, succeeded in integrating the Kapor Center’s Equity framework into our state’s new CS specialty endorsement.

I try to burn down the house. Credit: Deborah Kariuki

In the final session of the day, I presented a large group of other scholars about a vision for the next 15 years of computing education research, emerging from a 9 month workshop. Led by Adrienne Decker and Mark Weiss, this included Brett Becker, Stephen Edwards, Joanna Goode, Monica McGill, Briana Morrison, Manuel Pérez-Qiñonenes, Yolanda Renkin, Monique Ross, Jan Vahrenhold, Aman Yadav, and John Dougherty. Kicked of our subgroup’s vision of diversity, equity, inclusion, and “ethics”, with this slide deck, arguing for research on capitalism, power, systems, critical teacher education, and liberatory research methods:

  • Yolanda talked about the need for intersectional scholarship on broadening participation.
  • David Weintrop talked about the need for investigations into equity-centered K-12 classrooms.
  • Adrienne presented on supporting teacher supports, state policy, and the myriad applications of computing outside of computing in primary, secondary and post-secondary.
  • Briana talked about learning, charting a vision for investigating student conceptions, teaching around the diversity of prior knowledge, teacher appropriation and remixing of learning materials, tools that better support collaboration and more learner-centered assessment and analytics tools, and adult education.
  • Monica presented her group’s vision for impact, mapping out the space of stakeholders to teachers, administrators, counselors, teaching assessments, mentors, and others, and discussing reflective practice and evidence-based practice approaches to translating research. She discussed the need for more knowledge about research-practice partnerships, inclusion in data collection and participation, and the need for deeper integration of theory.
  • John Dougherty talked about teaching the need to examine assessment, teaching strategies, rubrics, and resources from a teaching perspective, not just a learning perspective, especially from a universal design perspective.
  • Monique Ross talked about disciplinary issues, including supporting doctoral students in computing education, the need for more programs that support computing education, and the need for research about these phenomena to shape these efforts.
A photograph of several computing education researchers, masked and smiling.
The in-person contingent of the Future of Computing Education Research Workshop

The report on this 15 year vision is forthcoming!

Two crab cakes, a fork, and an orange sauce.
My crab cakes!

Friday night I had a lovely dinner with Sarah Heckman, Lina Battestilli, and Kristen Stephens-Martinez; we had great conversations about program chairing, peer review, administration, food, and exclusionary behavior in other communties.

Saturday: Session Chairing and Socials

The final session kicked off with an announcement that we had more than 1,500 attendees, split roughly across in-person and online. There were a few allusions to budget problems some deep thanks for sponsors for offsetting the hybrid costs, and the announcement of the winners of the student research competition.

Shaundra begins by talking about her family.

Shaundra Daily gave the closing keynote, Diversifying Computing: Real Change Must Come from Within. Shaundra talked about her four generations of family, including her great grandmother in Louisiana, who was a sharecropper and her mother, who was the first to attend college and was very active in the NAACP. Throughout, the 13th amendment, the 19th amendment, Brown V Board of education, and the civil rights and voting rights act passed, Jim Crow slowly ended, and the civil rights emerged. But the space race also emerged, in which Black people were largely excluded from the early developments of the modern computing era.

Shaundra herself grew up doing gymnastics, dance, cheer, and being active in her church with youth. But what she really loved throughout was making. Even though she didn’t really have the tools or resources to bring all of her ideas to reality, she tried. Her mother insisted that she go to college and that she could be whatever she wanted. She decided that she wanted to be in the FBI, got some advice from a family friend to major in civil engineering, and ended up at Florida State University. But she still had no plan. As she learned more about civil engineering, she quickly realized she didn't want it. But she was stepping into STEM institutions that simply weren’t prepared or designed for her. She had no programming experience, but was expected to know them; she faced stereotypes about being a dancer, forcing her to hide her dancing; she found friction between the individualist culture and her community mindset that was designed to exclude; she faced resistance to having hobbies outside of school; and she found no ways to bring her community to the narrow conceptions of CS she encountered.

She had a professor who encouraged her to go to graduate school. She entered the PhD program not really knowing what it was. But as she looked for research that she was excited about, she couldn’t find it. She decided she wanted to do robotics and education. But her advisor kept rejecting her ideas; she left and then joined MIT, where she was allowed to do the things she was excited about, where she explored dance, computing, and the Scratch platform, working with Mitch Resnick, Seymour Papert, and other inspiring mentors. But even there, MIT was not designed for her. She had children, and had severe complications, but there was no flexibility, no maternity leave for graduate students, no livable stipend, no childcare. And so she left with a masters. She eventually moved into a faculty position as a professor of practice.

She reflected, observing the narrow path to success in computing, and it’s a path that can be harmful. And the result is students with narrow views of computing, reinforcing those narrow views and creating narrow views of technology in the world. She then highlighted some broadening participation efforts, such as early exposure, mentoring, affinity groups, and role models, but pointed out that they are simply not sufficient. The lack of CS course access, inaccessible materials, stereotyping, campus policing, foisting DEI work on marginalized faculty and students, entrance exams, the lack of diversity of educators, and unjust pacing, the narrow metrics of faculty success, micro and macro aggressions, assumptions on qualifications, inequitable pay, biased student evaluations, homogenous recruiting, bias in interview practices — we are not done. Shaundra then talked about the Alliance for Identity in Inclusive Computing Education (AIICE), which aims to address underrepresentation in computing through evidence-based, identity-inclusive interventions. They do training, research, policy work, and curriculum and pedagogy advocacy.

Geoffrey Herman at a podium and a slide showing a physics concept inventory example item.
Geoffrey talks about concept inventories.

After Shaundra’s beautiful keynote, I chaired a session of recent publications from the journal I edit, ACM Transactions on Computing Education. Geoffrey Herman presented PhD student Seth Pouslen’s work on Psychometric Evaluation of the Cybersecurity Concept Inventory. They observed the lack of any measurement of cybersecurity knowledge is hindering progress and offered a concept inventory design to address this gap. Their goal wasn’t to assess individual students, but pedagogy and curricula at a collective level. The concepts focus primarily on adversarial thinking, such as vulnerabilities, attacks, defense, targets, and attackers. But they found that there’s not always a right answer to security scenarios. They found that many student misconceptions concerned subtle differences between security concepts, overgeneralization of security mechanisms, bias towards computational solutions, and oversight of attacker motivations. Their inventories were reasonably reliable, had reasonable discrimination, but were somewhat too difficult.

Chen explains the state of high school CS.

Chen Chen presented High School Calculus and Computer Science Course Taking as Predictors of Success in Introductory College Computer Science. He talked about the speculative beliefs among CS faculty about the importance of math, but the the lack of clear evidence about these beliefs. Prior work suggest that high school English seems to be more important than high school math and that math often creates barriers to pursuing CS; but many prior studies have small samples, self-selection bias, additive effects, and no distinction between regular and AP classes. This particular study compared whether math or CS are better predictors of college CS learning outcomes. They received a stratified random sample from 2014 with 162 higher education institutes plus 10,197 students enrolled in CS50 at Harvard. They found that AP CS was a better predictor than “regular” or no CS, and that “regular” actually had no predictive effect, and that AP Calculus actually had a negative interaction effect, suggesting that AP Calculus is a better predictor than AP CS, and perhaps necessary and sufficient for achieving success in college intro courses. Of course, all of these models are confounded by other background models.

Georgiana Halderman (Colgate College) presented the final paper in the session, CSF2: Formative Feedback in Autograding. She explored the question of providing teacher feedback on programming assignments in the context of autograded assignments. She observed that teachers are often kept out of the feedback loop; more advanced ones offer hints, but still no teacher feedback. Her previous work mapped pass/fail patterns into hints written by instructors. This paper presented case studies of this system in practice, investigating how accurate their classifiers were, how teachers use it, and how students use it. Results were mixed: classification was fine, but students often did not fix errors, even after hints; but students who resubmitted appeared to have better mastery after receiving targeted hints.

A Community Gathered

It was wonderful being back in person with so many lovely colleagues. I had countless serendipitous conversations, met dozens of new scholars, made new friends, and have numerous new ideas. Everything that makes in-person conferences wonderful was available here, with a bit of masking, vaccine verification, and some risk-taking during meals. I’m very glad I attended in person, despite the modest risks to myself and others.

The hybrid experiment was successful on many dimensions, thanks to the outstanding and heroic efforts of Kristin Stephens-Martinez. For synchronous panels, I really felt like the remote attendees were present and included, and my sense was that they felt included a swell, even if they only had a limited view of the room’s social context. But other times, the remote attendees felt mostly invisible, floating in the ether, only appearing as text in a chat or briefly a video feed in a hybrid room. I look forward to future experiments that might make remote attendees more visible, more included, and more celebrated for their participation.

At the same time, there are emerging fault lines in the field that still keep the community divided. Many higher education CS faculty continue to have narrow conceptions of CS, disinterest in cultural responsiveness, and rigid ideas about pedagogy. This is not new. But emerging voices in the field are more loudly calling for rejection of these older, narrower, and exclusionary views of CS; these voices are publishing papers, giving keynotes, receiving awards, and even challenging some of the field’s greatest successes in broadening participation. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the more abolitionist, progressive parts of our community (which I am among) try to bring along are more conservative colleagues on a journey to welcome and include everyone in CS education, not just those that fit narrow views of who belongs.




This is the blog for the Code & Cognition lab, directed by professor Amy J. Ko, Ph.D. at the University of Washington. Here we reflect on our individual and collective struggle to understand computing and harness it for justice. See our work at

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Amy J. Ko

Amy J. Ko

Professor of programming + learning + design + justice at the University of Washington Information School. Trans; she/her. #BlackLivesMatter.

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