SIGCSE 2021 publication

The paper A Biology-based CS1: Results and Reflections, Ten Years In has been published in SIGCSE '21.

This paper analyzes a decade's worth of outcomes in cs5green, HMC's pilot Scripting-as-Professional-Literacy course, using cs5gold, HMC's breadth-first introduction to CS as a foil.


For a decade, our institution has offered both a biology-based CS1 (CS1-B) and a traditional, breadth-based CS1. This project follows the paths of students in both courses – tracking their subsequent interests (what courses do the two groups choose afterwards?) and their grades in those courses.

Within the biology-based cohort, we also contrast the futures of the students who chose a biology-themed introduction with the group who expressed no preference or requested the breadth-based approach. Even when student preference was not accommodated, equitable downstream performance results hold.

We discuss the implications of these results, including the possibility that, like introductory writing, introductory computing is a professional literacy in which many disciplines have a stake.

Citation:     Zachary Dodds, Malia Morgan, Lindsay Popowski, Henry Coxe, Caroline Coxe, Kewei Zhou, Eliot Bush, and Ran Libeskind-Hadas. 2021. A Biology-based CS1: Results and Reflections, Ten Years In. In The 52nd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '21), March 13-20, 2021, Virtual Event, USA. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 6 pages.

SIGCSE 2020 Roundtable

Incredibly, The New Educators Wednesday Roundtable (NEWR '20) was run in its entirety, 9am-5pm, on Wed., March 11, 2020 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OR as part of SIGCSE 2020's pre-symposium program.

The rest of SIGCSE '20 was canceled the next morning!

This Roundtable event convened 24 late-stage graduate students and early-career CS educators to SIGCSE '20 for a slate of eight presentations on career-balancing among the forces of higher-education's many paths, expectations, demands, and opportunities.

The CFI insight that CS does not own computing emerged as an important touchstone. The paths for leveraging and sharing our era's defining toolset are as compelling outside of CS as they are within that departmental identity.

Many thanks to all of the Roundtable's presenters and participants, the ACM board, and Diane Horton (U Toronto), co-organizer.

SIGCSE 2019 workshop   Embracing our Future: CS Courses and Curriculum for Non-CS-majors

Thank you

... to all who attended Embracing our Future: CS Courses and Curriculum for Non-CS-majors, a SIGCSE 2019 workshop held on Wed. Feb 27, 2019, 7-10pm, at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, Greenway A (2nd floor). This site is the clearinghouse for the workshop's slides, links, and materials,


  1. CS for All at Bucknell: Results from re-envisioning the introductory experience
  2. CS without CS majors: How all Olin engineers develop deep computing skills
    • 7:40 - 8:00 presentation, Prof. Paul Ruvolo, Olin College
    • 8:00 - 8:20 follow-up, hands-on exploration of curricular materials; discussion
    • Workshop link: Computing Resources (Paul Ruvolo)
  3. 8:20 - 8:40: Coffee break
  4. A CS2 for non-majors: Computing for Insight == Scripting for All (or Connective Computing)
  5. 9:20 - 10:00: Strategic-planning discussion and break-out groups:
    • + Prompt #1:    What of CS's curriculum can non-CS-majors do without?
    • + Subprompt:    What skills and experiences do they really need?!
    • + Prompt #2:    What facets of Bucknell/Olin/Claremont's curricula are pure idiosyncrasy?
    • + Subprompt:    What facets could be adapted for use elsewhere?!


Is your CS department feeling squeezed between a burgeoning CS major and an even-faster-growing group of non-majors seeking computing skills and experiences? Join us for an overview of three departments' approaches to serving non-CS-majors. Hands-on opportunities to explore the curriculum are available to those with laptops; opportunities to plan for the post-CS-major future are open to all!


CS majors are certainly not disappearing, but the interest and demand for computing from non-CS majors is a far larger part of our future, as members of CS departments, than those on the disciplinary-major path. As computing evolves from valuable specialty to a professional literacy, CS departments face several challenges. How do we support both the traditional CS-major path and provide computing curriculum to a far broader audience? How do we partner with sibling departments in order to foster their sense of ownership and identity with computing's mindsets and toolsets? And, perhaps especially poignant in 2018, how do we invest energy into the CS-for-All future during a time that demand in our major pathway is at historic highs?

This workshop features three faculty members who have tried to answer these questions within the context of their departments. This workshop will share the results of those experiments, will offer hands-on exploration of a representative subset of the curricular materials, and will scaffold a strategic discussion of CS's future and identity in the era of "CS for All."

Relevance of the topic

Mark Guzdial's post, "The Future of Computing Education is beyond CS majors" presaged the changes many CS departments now face. Even as demand for CS-as-specialty (the CS major) increases, the demand for CS skillsets, mindsets, and toolkits among non-CS majors is increasing at an even faster pace. The traditional tradeoff -- not worrying about non-majors -- will work in some circumstances for some amount of time, but will not serve the CS community's best interests as a long-term strategy. This workshop embraces this situation as "the right kind of problem to have," shares extra-CS-major curricula developed at three institutions, invites hands-on experience of representative facets, and -- perhaps most importantly -- convenes a group who will continue to creatively address this "problem" into the future.


Any CS professional seeking to bring computing to students whose primary professional identification might be something other than computer scientist or software engineer.

Background on presenters

Dr. Darakhshan Mir is an assistant professor of computer science at Bucknell with deep interest in open access to computing for students across a wide, and more widely representative, variety of professional and personal identifications. To that end, she proposed and led the NSF-funded project, "Exploring Partnered Teaching of Interdisciplinary CS+X Courses," and has expanded Bucknell's introductory computing pathway with CSCI 187: Creative Computing and Society. Darakshan will present some of the innovations, experiences, and results from those efforts as part of this workshop.

Co-leading that NSF workshop was Dr. Paul Ruvolo, a member of the Computer Science department of Olin College. At Olin, all students are engineers -- and all Olin students develop human-centered design skills as the foundation of their professional skillset and identities. Supporting those fundamental principles, students need and want comfort and capability with computing's essentials -- along with a practiced ability to add new tool-and-technique expertise as required by open-ended, large-scale projects. This workshop will feature Paul's experiences teaching Olin's required computing course, Software Design and a two-semester, multi-disciplinary course, Quantitative Engineering Analysis. In addition to the engineering-specific insights, these courses illustrate the depth which which computing can integrate and support any discipline with an academic identity distinct from CS.

Within the sibling colleges in Claremont, CA, Zachary Dodds has developed a CS2-level course for non-CS majors, Computing for Insight. The course's first part practices skills widely used across STEM, social-science, business, and a growing number of other professional paths: scripting a workflow across thousands of files, ad-hoc learning and leveraging new libraries, and introductions to pixel-processing and machine learning. The second part features a self-designed computational project by each student or team, supporting their (non-CS) major or other non-CS professional or personal interests. Spring '19 is its fourth offering: this workshop will distill its evolution and the "Connective Computing" skills it seeks to support, both institutionally and individually.

Workshop Date
Date Location
Wed. Feb. 27, 2019, 7-10pm Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, Greenway A (2nd floor)
Workshop feedback form

questions? concerns?    contact Zach Dodds,