Computer Science education

The only CS course I’m taking this semester is a Capstone Design project. This semester’s theme is CS education. There’s about 6 students in total including me in the course, and each week we write a summary about a research paper that a group of CS professors have done, and discuss them. Our assignments are all CS-education related; having to write an assignment or comparing algorithm visualization tools. We also have to do a project proposal, carry out the research, and present it.

I chose to study how internships really affect how we learn. At UofT, we have an internship program called PEY, so its a 16 month internship program. I want to sample students who are graduating this year, those who have done PEY vs. those who haven’t. It’s not obvious whether or not an internship year would have a huge effect on what students know, after all. So my plan is to interview a few students, and give them some technical questions, Amazon/Google style. One set of questions is broad and general but rather basic. This tests the general knowledge of the student. The other set is more in depth and the student will do a think aloud and walk me through what they are thinking – this part is going to be suited to the student’s knowledge domain. The main internship knowledge domains are Software Dev, Database, Networks, System/Low level design, Graphics/UI design, Web Dev, and Testing. Depending on what the student did, I’m going to ask them these type of questions. If they didn’t do PEY, then most likely I will ask Software Dev/Algorithmic related questions as the other ones we don’t quite focus on at UofT. Then I will compare the different sets of students to see if the way they answered the questions is statistically significant, and make my conclusions.

I’m having a hard time starting out gathering the data though – mostly because I have a hard time approaching people. It’s strange that I can be so open online yet when it comes to in person, the worst thought I have is of disturbing someone or having them ignore me. I have to overcome this fear and do what’s needed to start this project! This entire month is pretty much dedicated to this course – project has to be done by the end of this month, writing up a sample assignment, and doing the weekly summaries. For a half credit course, the workload seems like two courses. There’s also a test after this month, but it’s right after I come back from San Francisco, so I basically have to study for that this month because I have no time next month. Good news is there isn’t a final exam for this course, though the test could be thought of as one. Oh well… this month is looking to go by pretty fast, as usual.

Edit: I’ve decided to do a questionnaire instead because it’s more portable, but still having trouble with people answering the technical questions. They have very little incentive to do them, most are busy with midterms, and it takes close to an hour to write out the algorithms and everything. I’ve made all the questions not too easy (it would defeat the purpose of the project) and not too hard (no one would do it). But it still seems people are shying away from doing those questions. I’ll have to think of a better incentive than to just say its good job practice, but having a hard time doing so.


5 responses to “Computer Science education”

  1. Last month went by pretty fast but I’m positively sure that that was because it was February – less days and all. But a third of March has passed? I’m surprised…!

    I’m pretty open online. I think it [blogging] has helped me to be more open in person. A long time ago I was shy and people were surprised when I talked because I was just so quiet. Now I have to admit I’m pretty outgoing. It’s easy to be open on the internet but it’s a bit more of a challenge in person.

    I have done a few research projects during university so far and have conducted some online interviews. You could try emailing for a start, that might get the ball rolling?

  2. I didn’t do any internship or work placement during university. I did all 3 years in one go.

    Although I didn’t do any placement during university, I do feel that it would have helped. After a year of working full time I felt much smarter and more knowledgeable. During university, I found it hard to concentrate on a piece of work and get into a regular work pattern. However I learnt to do that at work (well because I have to). I feel that if I did a work placement I would have done better during my last year at university. I would be able to concentrate on a piece of work better and be more focus. I’ll be able to follow a regular work pattern much better.

  3. Computer science! lol A lot of people say computer science is a really hard major. I’m sure it is, but I’m actually good with computers…if only I wasn’t lazy to try to pursue that path. I remember when I was still in middle school or younger I took my brother’s C++ book to read XD You’re very makes me feel bad about myself t-t

    I’ve never had an internship before so… I can’t help =( But good luck with your last year and try to enjoy it because it is your last year ne? :3

  4. That actually sounds like a really interesting project, and I’d happily take part in something like that, except that I don’t go to your school and that I’m not a computer science major (though sometimes I wish that I had attempted a ME/CS double major).

    However, I’m going to predict that you will see differences, because the things you learn in school are nothing like the things you learn on the job. I learn a lot more on the job than in school, for one. Good luck!

  5. Cool beans! A computer Science student! I am not really a CS student. I am majoring in Information Systems but I am doing a lot of programming too (besides the CS math and logic :p)

    Questionnaire, questionnaire, questionnaire. I hate them. I hate constructing and distributing them and I also hate receiving and answering them. Unfortunately, this semester, I am taking a course in social research. I had to do a lot of surveys and questionnaires and distribute them to the students. Analyzing the data would be sometime next week. I am not really a fan when it comes to research.

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