Computing as Literacy

Elizabeth Patitsas - PhD candidate, Computer Science, University of Toronto

March 17, 2017, 10 a.m. - March 17, 2017, 11:30 a.m.

McConnel Engineering room 321



We live in era when cyberwarfare is affecting democracies and automation is changing the labour landscape. Our society now needs its citizens to understand the basics of how computers and the internet work and how to think computationally. My research agenda is to champion computing as the next universal literacy. To do this I see a three-pronged approach as necessary: (1) we must better understand how students learning computing concepts so we can teach to a wider audience; (2) we must improve CS teacher education and development so we can scale up CS education; and (3) policy analysis is imperative to ensure that CS education initiatives are effective and sustainable. I'll present research I've conducted in all three directions, focusing on my work on the policies that CS departments make in response to undergraduate enrolment booms. From studying the two past enrolment booms as well as the current boom, I've found that the policies CS departments make can have large effects on student learning experiences and the demographic diversity of CS students. I'll then talk about future work in each of the three prongs, such as applying lessons from literacy education to CS education.




Elizabeth Patitsas is a PhD candidate in computer science at the University of Toronto, specializing in computer science education. Her research interests include gender issues in computer science education, how CS departments make policy decisions about their undergraduate programmes, and how instructors and TAs understand their teaching practices.