Impression ICER 2021 - Day 4

Thursday August 19

Posted by Daphne Miedema on August 20, 2021 · 7 mins read

And, that was it. ICER 2021 ended yesterday. This is my final blog in the series, reporting on day 4 and overall impressions.

Thursday 19 August

It was a very exciting day, because finally, I got to present my work on SQL Misconceptions! But, our paper was located in the last session, so first we examined work of our fellow authors.

Between all the posters, lightning talks and abstracts available for discussion on Wednesday, there was way too much material available to discuss in the 40 minutes on Wednesday. So, I had reached out to a few authors with questions outside the sessions. Some of them reached out, and I will be taking ICER material with me into the next week in discussions with various authors.

The program of this final day started with some announcements and a set of zoom pictures of all attendees. Below you see one of the pictures of attendees, taken by Jan Vahrenhold, PC Chair of ICER 2021.

Some of the attendees, including myself, on the group picture. Screenshot source: ICER Clowdr page.

Then, it was time for the first paper session. Again, I attended the Shrimp room. The first paper in this session was on teaching second (and subsequent) programming languages. The authors interviewed teachers about their experiences with this concept. They found that there were various reasons for teaching more than one programming language, for example:

  • Start with an easy language to engage the students and build confidence
  • Different languages have different benefits, such as perspectives

So, teachers saw benefits of teaching more than one language. However, the teachers saw problems, such as negative effects of syntactic and semantic transfer. This problem was exacerbated because most teachers in the study did not believe in implementing transfer strategies to make the transition easier. Whoops! Clearly, there is lots of work to be done in this area.

The second paper in this session was on conceptions of higher order functions. Higher order functions are advanced programming topics such as map and filter functions. The authors were wondering how well students would be able to recognize and group functions by their behavior. For example, a map will always have identical length in- and output. The authors found that the students grew in their understanding of these higher order functions. As the authors mention in their abstract, their method is one of their main contributions, and I think it is a valuable one. Another item for the toolbox!

Then, in the first break, I had a quick videochat with Kristin Stephens-Martinez, on how our research interests intersect. While her daughter ate garlic bread, Kristin told me about two of her project. The 20 minutes were definitely too short, so I hope we can soon continue our conversation!

Then, paper session 2, two papers with an honerable mention. My presentation was first, then came Seth Poulsen's presentation on writing proofs with proof blocks. This approach, similar to Parson's problems, allows students to write proofs by correctly ordering lines of the proof to a solution. There may also be distractors present. I again thought this was a super inventive idea, and the authors found that the tool made proof writing easier, while still testing whether student knowledge was at the appropriate level.

As authors do not attend round tables of their own paper, George and I moved to the backstage to prepare for our Q&A. We could see the incoming questions from there too, so I could prepare for the first question. Our moderator, Kathi Fisler, also warmed us up by already asking some questions on the works, and by checking if there was anything we wanted to highlight that our presentation had not captured. The Q&A went just fine, and we received a few more questions in the discussion room during the break. Attendance to the session was a little under 40 people, I think that together with my Twitter outreach, we reached our goal of introducing our work to the community.

The closing session was full of people being thanked, and people relaxing as the event was now over! Then, we were introduced to Lugano, where ICER 2022 will be held. The video looked amazing, and I sincerely hope I can join again next year!

Overall impression

ICER 2021 was my first introduction to the CSEd community from up close. And what a good introduction! The community was very welcoming, social, and funny. The platform, Clowdr, certainly helped to make it this way. The customly implemented roundtables facilitated discussion (and seeing new faces!). The floating emojis over the videos added a sense of communication and interaction.

I noticed that some people had issues with Clowdr, but personally I did not experience any bugs. I might have been sitting in silence sometimes because I forgot to press play, but hey, that is the human in the loop! One minor issue I had with Clowdr was the confusing amount of chat windows and notifications available throughout the week, but by day 2 I mostly had it under control.

The content of the conference was of really high quality. I have seen 16 paper presentation in the sessions, four paper presentations ahead of time (that I would miss because of attending a parallel session), and many lightning talks and posters. They were all really good, although for some I missed some background knowledge to fully understand. I guess that comes with being new to the community! But even when I didn't know, authors and fellow attendees were happy to elaborate - more proof of the welcoming nature of the CSEd community.

I want to end by thanking the organizers of the conference for their great work, thank you Amy, Jan, Renée and Matthias (and all other volunteers). And a major thank you to all attendees for the good discussions. I hope to see you next year in Lugano.