Mark Guzdial wins Best Discussion Paper Award at Koli Calling conference

He and his coauthor earned the award for their work on computing education among liberal arts students.
Mark Guzdial

Mark Guzdial, professor of computer science and engineering and director of the Program in Computing for the Arts and Sciences (PCAS) at U-M, has received the Best Discussion Paper Award at the 2023 Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research. He and his coauthor Gus Evrard, the Arthur and Alice Burks Collegiate Professor and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the departments of Physics and Astronomy, won the award for their paper “Identifying the Computing Education Needs of Liberal Arts & Sciences Students.”

Koli Calling, held annually in Koli, Finland, is a top international conference on computing education research and serves as an avenue for the sharing of new ideas and findings among experts in this area. Its goal is to promote the advancement of teaching and learning in computing disciplines through rigorous, theoretically anchored research.

The Koli Calling conference offers two separate tracks, one for research papers with empirical results and the other for discussion papers focused on processes, tools, curricular design, and more. Just one paper from the second of these tracks is selected to receive the Best Discussion Paper Award.

In their paper, Guzdial and Evrard report their findings and outcomes from a U-M task force they launched with the aim of exploring best practices and processes for liberal arts and sciences computing education. As their paper reports, students in U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) have different needs than their more engineering-focused counterparts. When it comes to learning computing, the U-M task force identified discovery, expression, and justice as the overarching themes for how computing is used in LSA.

Their paper also describes how the findings of their task force led to the establishment of the PCAS, a forward-thinking program that aims to create new computing courses that better meet the needs of U-M LSA students. A testament to the success of this approach, enrollment in PCAS classes has tripled since the program’s first semester.

In addition to his research, Prof. Guzdial had the opportunity to show off his ukulele skills to conference attendees in a live programming demonstration.