PPIG WIP 2004 Report

PPIG Workshop: 

Work-in-Progress PPIG Workshop

December 15-16 2004
University of Nottingham, UK

Review by Eileen Doyle

The first workshop for Unroll Your Ideas took place in the University of Nottingham. The workshop comprised four sessions, during which fifteen research ideas were presented, covering areas such as extreme programming, empirical modelling and teaching and learning computer science.

The workshop commenced with a keynote speech on teaching debugging by Eric Roberts. Eric supplied us with interesting references like Robert Pirsig's Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance to emphasise the psychological and cognitive aspects of debugging.

The first session started with Sallyann Byant who presented her investigation on software quality through observing programmers working in industry to identify their qualities for pair programming.

The next presenter was Clive Rosen who provided us with the best analogy of the workshop. While presenting his research on exploring a theoretical basis for the software engineering paradigm Clive compared the purchasers of software to those who purchase dog food (Do either use the product they purchase?).

The session concluded with Paul Adams who gave us a flavour of his work on the role of ego in libre pair programming.

The first day finished with Luke Church's discussion on the possibility of using continuous gesture system and language model to provide an alternative entry mechanism while highlighting some of the questions raised by the design of this system.

The second day began with the session on empirical modelling; first to present was Charlie Care who aims to conduct a study which restores the analogue quality to modern programming based on computer based artefacts which can be used to enable the understanding of physical artefacts. This was demonstrated through a computer based model of a planimeter (a device used to calculate areas). Karl King intends to develop an artefact to explore to what extent tools support modelling in the stream-of-thought.

The next session opened with Marizieh Ahmadzadeh. The goal of her research is to refine teaching methods based on the observation of students' mistakes (complier and logical errors). This is achieved through examining pattern of compiler and debugging logical errors in the practical exercises of novice students.

Ioanna Stamouli explored the main conceptions of undergraduate students have of the fundamental principles of object-oriented programming using the phenomenographic approach. Orna Muller presented her work on pattern-oriented instruction on algorithmic problem solving.

The ExploreCSEd team presented their project which is to investigate the cognitive skills involved in learning to program and the major difficulties that students face when trying to learn this subject, irrespective of the programming language. To realise the goal of this project the team seek to recruit participants who are willing to apply the developed tool in their home institutions.

For more information on this project or to participate please visit ExploreCSEd Project.

Papers addressing extreme programming, empirical modelling, teaching and learning computer science were featured. The workshop concluded with an excellent summary of these papers and the discussion sessions by Marian Petre.

Towards the end of the workshop I gathered informal feedback from some of the participants on the features of the workshop that they found the most beneficial. This is what they thought:

  1. Speeches from the invited speakers (Eric and Marian) were very inspirational.
  2. Discussion on current issues allowed for reflection on problem that participants encounter in their discipline.
  3. Meeting postgraduates for a similar research setting to swap stories and establish communication links.
  4. Meeting experts in the field.
  5. Gaining constructive feedback on each individual's research.

Highlighting the issues involved in conducting research to supplement the advice from supervisors.

I would like to finish on a personal note, this was my first PPIG event and I found it an excellent source of feedback for my research and great fun. Also it provided a great opportunity to meet other doctoral students.

One item that I would like to highlight for future attendees is to think about what you want to get from the participants and include it as part of your presentation, this was a great help to me.

Finally I would like to thank Marjahan and her team for organising a successful event and I hope to see more of this kind of activity in the future.