Highlights of ICER 2021 - Day 2

Tuesday August 17

Posted by Daphne Miedema on August 18, 2021 · 5 mins read

On Tuesday the program was mostly filled with paper sessions. Instead of telling you all about the six paper presentations and discussions, I'll share some of my highlights of the day.

1. The first funny thing happened when Miranda Parker welcomed us to the lightning talks that kicked of day 2, by welcoming us to day 3! This really reflected the idea that to receive a correct answer on the internet, you should just post an incorrect answer and someone will come correct you: immediately, chat messages appeared on what day it was, and whether that even mattered. Miranda herself found a creative solution.

2. On Monday, in the welcome chat, I had already mentioned that I felt a bit confused with all the separate pages and event having separate chat logs. This was corroborated by other attendees. Again, Miranda made things more interesting for us by comparing her confusion about the chats to that what Schrödingers cat must have felt, which led to some hilarity. So, the conversation moved to cats, a poll on who has pets, and even led to the generation of a break room in which participants showed off their cats!

3. In the first paper session on Tuesday, with theme Assessments 1, there was a paper on Explain in plain English questions. The authors had interviewed teachers who (had) used EipE questions, and how they applied and graded them. They found that teachers often did not use them because of the high cost in time to grade, and inconsistent grading between teachers. Therefore, EipE questions perhaps should not be used summatively, but only formatively.

I personally find EipE questions very interesting, and might want to use them in the future, so this summarized reflection was of high interest to me.

4. In the second paper session, named Assessments 2, there was a presentation on another interesting type of questions: reverse tracing questions. If, as a teacher, you want to test students' skills in both query writing and query tracing, an online exam is problematic: for the writing part of the exam you need an interpreter, which means students can use this interpreter to copy the tracing questions and retrieve the answer immediately. The authors present reverse-tracing questions, where students need to find the input that produces the required output, as an alternative to tracing questions, as they are less susceptible to exploitation. They did find that the thought processes differed slightly between tracing and reverse-tracing questions, but this might not be a problem for questions of relatively low complexity. However, when reverse-tracing and tracing questions are of higher difficulty, the skills that are tested in the one, might not be the same as that in the other.

For our my work, this distinction is of high importance. As with the EipE questions, I would like to use (reverse-)tracing questions in the future too. These authors' findings lead me to reflect on our ideas, and whether the problems I have in mind are not too difficult for our students to answer. In the paper's discussion, the authors even compare the students' problem solving process on complex reverse-tracing questions to Explain in plain English questions, so perhaps using them both leads to duplicate answers.

5. In the last session of the day, the best paper and first honerable mention were presented. Both were papers on the topic of identity in Computing Education. Due to my lack of knowledge in this area, I did not fully understand all of the steps and conclusions in these papers. However, what I did find very interesting was the parallels between the conclusions of the two papers and the keynote by dr. Clegg on Monday. Interaction with Computer Science can come in many different shapes and sizes, which are not only valid, but highly neccessary to increase participation.

6. Finally, I want to reflect on the roundtables for discussion. As this is my first time attending ICER, or any conference in this community for that matter, joining social events and random breakout rooms can be a bit scary. So, it is nice when someone brings enthousiasm and specifically asks for your thoughts on the presentations. Thank you for that, Mark Guzdial!

Now, onward to day 3!