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A statement on scholarship for my triennial review

As I’ve noted recently, I am up for my triennial salary review this year. I’ve written a context statement and a teaching statement. Today’s musing is a draft of my statement on scholarly activities.

The scholarship section of the report contains an automatically generated list of papers [1], presentations, and such. We then write a few paragraphs about our scholarship from the past few years and our goals for the next three years. For this musing, you just get my scholarly reflections. You can see the details of my papers on my CV.

In one to two paragraphs, discuss the impact of your scholarship. In the case of multi-authored scholarship, describe your contribution.

My primary focus for the past few years has been to work with my students to design and conduct summer code camps as a way to contribute to the diversity of my field. I thinking about my research for this period, I had not planned to offer such camps. However, when I talked to Narren Brown (formerly a diversity officer at Grinnell) about how I could make a difference with diversity, Narren said (approximately), It’s too late if you wait until people come to Grinnell to make a difference. Middle school students in Iowa have no real opportunities to have significant learning opportunities in computing. You’ll make more of a difference offering code camps. Since diversity is important to me, I run the camps. I have also been guiding my research students in some associated research activities, including a significant literature review (analyzing approaches from 60+ papers and 500 code-camp sites that appeared online), curriculum design, and studies of the efficacy of the curricula of the camps. I hope, but am not yet sure, that our approaches to the camps will encourage others to look beyond the traditional robotics / games / mobile apps camps that they offer, In particular, I hope that our results encourage others to try the approaches we are using that focus on computing for social good, and perhaps even to try the context in which we teach computing, such as computing for the arts. Once we finish the project in summer 2018, I hope to pass on primary responsibility for running the camps to a staff member; I am still not sure how that will work.

In work with my students, my custom is to put authors in alphabetical order with my name at the end. In most cases, the students have written part of the paper, proposal, or poster. I do the majority of the polishing and some portion of the writing. (Information about other work elided.)

In one to two paragraphs provide your scholarly goals for the next three-year period.

As I noted above, my first task is to finish the Code Camps project. We will explore one more model of code camp in summer 2018. I also hope to have the students re-do the literature review using a more detailed protocol for classifying camps. (I allowed the students to design the protocol, and it was too inconsistently applied.) Finally, I hope to finish a project that arose along the way. Midway through the Web site review, students noticed that there were troubling issues of representation in the site. In summer 2017, my students started to design a protocol for exploring that issue, but were not able to review the sites. This spring, I hope to complete the protocol and to have my summer students apply the protocol over the summer.

Once the various aspects of the code camp project are finished, I expect to return to the Mathematical Image Synthesis Toolkit project, in which we consider at a non-traditional way of applying computing to the arts. My research team has developed a prototype of the toolkit that lets one build images and animations by doing math over images. I’d like to make that more robust and extend its capabilities to 3D objects. I will then explore how it can be used by creative people and its effects on ways in which people think computationally.

Hmmm … I didn’t really describe the impact, even though that’s what the prompt asked for. I think the camps had a lot of impact on the kids. Teaching the camps had a lot of impact on my research students. But have I caused seismic changes in the field? Nope.

Interestingly, the rubric does not seem to require that. The rubric speaks to things like An article or articles published highly competitive peer-reviewed journals. Our work is published in the Proceedings of the SIGCSE Symposium on Computer Science Education, which is one of the top venues for CS Education research [3,4]. It typically has a 30% acceptance rate, which I would say is competitive, but not highly competitive. People do read and respond to what we do [5]. Is that impact? I’m not sure.

[1] The list is automatically generated in the sense that someone painfully inserted all of the information into a bunch of fields on Sedona [2] and then Sedona spit out the information in some semi-meaningful form.

[2] I’m still not sure why Sedona won’t just accept the information in a standard format, such as BibTeX.

[3] Hmmm … Let’s hope my reviewer remembers to explain to the Faculty Salary Committee about conference publications in CS.

[4] This year’s SIGCSE now has separate research and experience tracks. I wonder how that will impact its role as a top conference and how people report on their SIGCSE publications.

[5] I got a slew of favorable comments on my students’ presentation at last year’s SIGCSE.

Version 1.0 of 2017-11-01.