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Important and Difficult Topics in CS2: An Expert Consensus via Delphi Study

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Conference

2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Curricular Innovations in Computing - 1

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer Engineering Division (ECE)

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/1-2--43574

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/43574

Download Count

98

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Paper Authors

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Lea Wittie Bucknell University

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Lea Wittie is an Associate Professor in the department of Computer Science in the Engineering College at Bucknell University.

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Anastasia Kurdia Tulane University

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Anastasia Kurdia is a Senior Professor of Practice of Computer Science at Tulane University. She received her undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics from Belarusian State University, and Ph.D. from University of Texas at Dallas.

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Meriel Huggard Trinity College Dublin Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8299-6619

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Dr. Meriel Huggard has been a tenured faculty member in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland since 2000. During 2015/16 she was a visiting associate professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bucknell University, PA. She teaches courses in computer

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Khai-Nguyen Nguyen Bucknell University

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A senior student at Bucknell University

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Abstract

Almost every computer science program contains two semester-long introductory courses, usually named Computer Science 1 (CS1) and Computer Science 2 (CS2). They have been a mandatory element of the ACM Computing Curriculum for nearly fifty years and are likely to remain so for many years to come. While there seems to be a broad agreement on the key elements of CS1, the curriculum for CS2 can vary significantly between institutions. What material should in fact be included in CS2? Ideally, an educator would want to cover the topics that students need to master in order to successfully learn other topics further in the course and in the subsequent courses in the curriculum (important topics). They would also want to concentrate on topics that students are likely to struggle with and take a longer time to understand (difficult topics). This paper details the process and results of a multi-year international study that examined the topics of difficulty and importance in CS2 using Delphi method (an iterative process for reaching consensus among a group of subject experts that allows the participants to reconsider their opinions based on the anonymized responses of the other experts in the group provided at preceding iteration). We present three topic sets aiming to inform the choice of topics for designing a CS2 course or exam. The first set contains the topics selected based on importance and indicates what topics should be included in a CS2 course or its textbook. The second set of topics is based on both importance and difficulty and as such would be a guide for the creation of exams and concept inventories. The third set contains the topics that none of the faculty experts marked as either important or difficult suggesting delegation to a different course or leaving them for self-study. We also provide a comparison with other published topic sets for CS2.

Wittie, L., & Kurdia, A., & Huggard, M., & Nguyen, K. (2023, June), Important and Difficult Topics in CS2: An Expert Consensus via Delphi Study Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43574

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