Lecture 08: Handling Feedback / CS Education Research

CS298 / EDUC298

Spring 2021

Stanford University

Computer Science Department

Lecturer: Chris Gregg

  • You should encourage feedback!
    • This may be nerve-wracking, but it can significantly improve your teaching
    • You will get feedback whether you like it or not, so it is best to be prepared
    • Accept all constructive feedback -- if you agree with it, use it to influence your teaching
  • You can invite others to observe you teach
    • Ask them to either give you feedback holistically, or for a particular topic. E.g., "I will be teaching Dijkstra’s algorithm, and I’d like you to judge whether I explained the topic well enough, and whether you think the students understood it. I will also have them working on an exercise to go along with it, and I’d like feedback on how you think that went."
    • Your school may have a teaching center that helps instructors prepare -- feel free to reach out to them to observe you.
  • Feedback from students:
    • Your students will be able to give you excellent feedback. They see teachers every day, and they know what good teaching looks like.
    • Frequent feedback is better than feedback only at the end of the course
    • End-of-term feedback is good, but it can only help for next time

Lecture 08: Handling Feedback

  • Don't be too hard on yourself when you receive criticism!
    • Use the criticism to inform your teaching
    • Remember: students who are at the ends of the spectrum ("loved it!" or "hated it!") are more likely to leave feedback
    • Try not to compare yourself to other instructors -- there are only so many Keith Schwartz's of the world
      • Be the best teacher you can be -- improve as you can, and have a positive attitude
      • ​If you do have a superstar co-faculty member, go observe them!
  • ​Unconstructive feedback
    • This will happen
    • It isn't of any use to you, so don't give it much thought. Students will say something anonymously that they wouldn't say in person, and often it is their way of getting something off their chests.
      • Student frustration is real, and they don't always own their part. If you grade fairly, and teach as best you can, you can safely ignore unconstructive feedback.
    • If the feedback is sexist, racist, homophobic, or similarly offensive, it is worth bringing up to your department chair.

Lecture 08: Handling Feedback

  • Feel free to discuss ways to have others read your feedback and report to you
    • They can weed out the unconstructive feedback.
    • They can summarize
    • Some medical schools do the following: they have a committee of students read and summarize feedback -- this can help the students and the instructors
  • Should you have anonymous feedback?
    • This is up to you
    • It can provide an avenue for feedback from students who are concerned that their feedback might put them in an awkward position
    • It can also be abused

Lecture 08: Handling Feedback

  • Teaching is a dynamic field, and the CS Education wing is vibrant
    • The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) has a sub-group called the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), which hosts a number of academic conferences and has a good mailing list serve
      (https://sigcse.org/sigcse/membership/mailing-lists)  for questions.
    • You can attend one or more conferences, submit papers, and (of course) read papers from the conferences.
    • Staying current with SIGCSE is a great way to improve your pedagogy, meet other like-minded faculty (and some non-like-minded faculty!)
  • ​Conferences​
    • SIGCSE
      • This is the main CS Education conference, attended by ~2000 people each year.
      • The most prominent CS Education keynote addresses happen at SIGCSE
      • There are "birds of a feather" talks about particular subjects
      • There are many high-quality research papers
      • There are also many papers based on course reports
      • Nifty Assignments is held at SIGCSE

Lecture 08: CS Education Research

  • Conferences (continued)
    • ITiCSE
      • The Innovation and Technology in CS Education conference is often held in Europe
      • It is a great choice if you happen to be outside the U.S.
      • ​It is similar to SIGCSE in scope
    • ICER
      • The International Computing Education Research conference is more specifically targeted to CS research, and is a bit more technical (and much smaller) than SIGCSE.
    • CompEd
      • This is a new conference that will be held outside of North America or Europe.
      • It will have a similar scope to SIGCSE
    • The Grace Hopper Celebration
      • "Grace Hopper" isn't a SIGCSE-sponsored conference, but it is a terrific opportunity to see 15,000 women interested in tech. It is a great opportunity for female faculty to go to to become excited about CS.
    • Tapia
      • The ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Comput- ing (Tapia) conference is a yearly gathering focused on celebrating diversity in computing

Lecture 08: CS Education Research

  • Your own research!

Lecture 08: CS Education Research

  • What to do if?

Lecture 08: Handling Feedback / CS Education Research

  • Go to the ACM Library for SIGCSE and find a paper from a conference (could be new or classic) that you haven't read before.
  • Read the article, and write down your thoughts. In particular:
    • What is the main result?
    • Are the results surprising?
    • Is this something you might like to use to improve your teaching?
    • How does this further the CS Education field?

Assignment: Find a paper from the SIGCSE conference about something new to you

Lecture 08: Handling Feedback / CS Education Research

By Chris Gregg

Lecture 08: Handling Feedback / CS Education Research

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