“I do research in computing education, not in computer science”

This weekend I’ve participated in the doctoral consortium (DC) arranged by ITiCSE (a conference on innovation and technology in computer science education). This was the first time for me at ITiCSE, and just like most conferences nowadays, it was all online over zoom. I did have quite high expectations for the DC and was a bit disappointed that we did not have time to discuss our research projects more. There was also no time to discuss any questions or thoughts that we had pertaining our research projects. We were limited to 10 minutes presentation and 5 minutes discussion, which is according to me, way to little to get any constructive feedback. Although I am grateful for the feedback that I got from the organisers in an email afterwards.

With this post I want to bring up one essential thing that I take with me from the DC. One of the workshops that we had at the DC was about the importance of educational theory. Andreas Mühling (one of organisers) was responsible for this workshop and he emphasised that the difference between computer science education and computer science is the use of educational theory to understand what goes on in the CS classroom. This is something I’ve known “unconsciously” but to hear Andreas say this out loud really made an impact on me. Sometimes I’ve felt that I focus too much on theories and that it might be hard for me to reach teachers in CS(E) if what I write gets too abstract and difficult. I guess it is easy to feel like you focus too much on theory being an educational researcher in computer science, but thanks to Andreas workshop I know that I am doing the “right” thing. However, it is tricky to write in a way that resonates with everyone. Still, theory is important. But I am sure now that focusing on educational theory (and theory in general) is what makes all the difference when it comes to identifying myself as a CS education researcher, and that difference makes me feel like I belong in this field after all.

Last but not least, my 2-page DC paper is accessible here: https://doi-org.ezproxy.its.uu.se/10.1145/3456565.3460019

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