Hi, all,

FWIW, I’d just like to second Doug’s sentiment below, to focus largely on the two apparent needs identified in the SIGCSE charge with likely resolutions to those items being to form a permanent group.  I totally agree that taking more of a broad, open-ended approach is not likely to lead to much (and I, for one, think that the two identified needs are “real”, as I think many or all of you do).  Some kind of middle road might work, but I personally feel like a more concrete focus is a better approach.


> Date:    Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:41:24 -0400
> From:    Douglas Baldwin <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: SIGCSE Liberal Arts Survey?
> On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 3:26 PM, Amanda Holland-Minkley <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> ...
> As far as the larger question of, do we need a survey on these topics, I'm
>> wondering what our end goal is as a group. I know that this is a short-term
>> committee and that we need to assemble a report (this summer, I think?).
> In some sense our end goal is defined by the Committee's charge from SIGCSE
> (see http://sigcse.org/sigcse/programs/committees/liberal), which is to
> confirm or refute two apparent needs,but  also to identify any other needs
> and suggest ways of meeting any or all of said needs. The two apparent
> needs are (1) for a "voice" that can speak for liberal arts computing
> programs to the larger computing community, e.g., on ACM curriculum
> committees, and (2) for a place -- perhaps a virtual one -- where members
> of the liberal arts CS community can get together with each other. I think
> we already have a pretty good sense that (2) is widely felt, less of a
> sense on (1), and the final "identify any other and suggest resolutions"
> clause leaves us wide open to do almost anything.
> There are lots of things that could mean for further surveys, starting with
> more from Amanda's message:
> If we think that we want to propose to SIGCSE that there is demand for a
>> standing group, seeing the amount of information that people want about how
>> liberal arts CS education is being structured and that we don't have could
>> be a compelling part of the argument. Additionally, we don't currently have
>> a good place to house any information we gather - hopefully becoming a more
>> long-term group could justify establishing a home for this sort of content.
>> If we do want to gather more survey data, I might be inclined to assemble
>> more of a meta-survey to build on what we learned at SIGCSE and find out
>> from a larger set of those involved in CS education if we've correctly
>> identified the major issues and concerns faculty at liberal arts
>> institutions have or not. We could likely assemble the survey from the
>> summary document we already have.
> To my mind, this says we treat most of the questions raised by the SIGCSE
> conversation as demonstrating the need for an ongoing body that can conduct
> studies of liberal arts computing and curate the resulting data over a long
> period of time. The Committee can then recommend creation of such a body
> and refer most further surveying to it, maybe focusing any survey and
> reading we do in the next few months on item (1) from our charge. This
> might lead us to identify a few new needs from the SIGCSE conversation, but
> to only offering resolutions to items (1) and (2), both resolutions quite
> likely being "form a permanent group." I think this is a very reasonable
> way to go should we choose it.
> But another way we could go is to treat the SIGCSE conversation as
> identifying the other needs that the liberal arts CS community thinks are
> important, leading us to try to understand and report on all of them.
> Personally I think this is too open-ended, and takes us way into a gray
> area of identifying genuine "needs" vs gathering data to answer questions
> that follow from those needs. The long survey it suggests would be hard to
> design and hard to get respondents to wade through. But if there was a big
> turnout of volunteers for this approach, and/or it turned out most of the
> questions/issues from SIGCSE were already addressed somewhere in existing
> literature and data, we could try this.
> And, of course, there are middle ways between the above: leaving most of
> what we identified at SIGCSE for a permanent body to pursue, but taking on
> a few items that we, in whatever way, decide are particularly important
> now, etc.
> So, do others of you have feelings about which of these courses, or others,
> you'd like to follow?
> In all cases I prefer not designing a survey and gathering data that
> already exists somewhere else though, thus the literature and other data
> sets search part of the project. (I didn't quote it, but another part of
> Amanda's message mentioned looking at reports from the NDC and Taulbee
> surveys and finding that the results don't have a "liberal arts" category
> per se).
> Finally, we do need to produce a report. I think it would be nice for that
> report to be in essentially final form in time to give an oral version at
> SIGCSE 2018, with a written one appearing soon after.
> ------------------------------
> End of SIGCSE-LIBARTS-COMM Digest - 13 Jun 2017 to 15 Jun 2017 (#2017-5)
> ************************************************************************