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On the Road to a Software Profession: Students’ Experiences of Concepts and Thresholds
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Information Technology, Division of Scientific Computing. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Information Technology, Numerical Analysis. (UpCERG)
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Research has shown that there are gaps in knowledge between newly hired and experienced professionals and that some of these gaps are related to concepts, such as the concepts of object orientation. This problem, and the fact that most computer science majors want to work in the software industry, leads to questions regarding why these gaps exist and how students can be better prepared for their future careers. Against this background, this thesis addresses two theme-based perspectives that focus on students' views of concepts in Computer Science.

The first theme-based perspective investigated the existence of potential Threshold Concepts in Computer Science. Such concepts should be troublesome, transformative, irreversible, and integrative. Qualitative methods have been mainly used and empirical data have been collected through semi-structured interviews, concept maps, and written stories. The results identified two Threshold Concepts, suggested several more, and then described the ways in which these concepts have transformed students.

The second theme-based perspective took a phenomenographic approach to find the variation in how students understand concepts related to the software profession. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews. In one study the interviews were held in connection with role-playing where students took on the role of a newly hired programmer. The results show a variety of ways to experience the addressed phenomena in the student collective, ranging from superficial views that often have a practical nature to more sophisticated understandings that reflect a holistic approach, including a professional point of view.

Educators can use the results to emphasize concepts that are important from students' perspectives. The phenomenographic outcome spaces can help teachers to reflect upon their own ways of seeing contrasted with student conceptions. I have indicated how variation theory can be applied to open more sophisticated ways of seeing, which in this context stresses the professional aspects to help students prepare for becoming professional software developers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2010. , p. 61
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 734
Keywords [en]
Biographies, class diagram, computer science education, computer science education research, computing concepts, concept map, content analysis, higher education, java interface, learning, object orientation, phenomenography, programming, role-play, software development, software profession, threshold concepts, variation theory
National Category
Computer Sciences Didactics
Research subject
Computer Science with specialization in Computer Science Education Research
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-122304ISBN: 978-91-554-7789-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-122304DiVA, id: diva2:309647
Public defence
2010-06-04, Room 2446, Polacksbacken, Lägerhyddsvägen 2D, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-05-04 Created: 2010-04-07 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Threshold Concepts in Computer Science: Do they exist and are they useful?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Threshold Concepts in Computer Science: Do they exist and are they useful?
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2007 (English)In: SIGCSE Bulletin inroads, ISSN 0097-8418, Vol. 39, no 1, p. 504-508Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Computer Sciences Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-20482 (URN)10.1145/1227504.1227482 (DOI)000267059300117 ()
Available from: 2008-03-07 Created: 2008-03-07 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
2. Student Understanding of Object-Oriented Programming as Expressed in Concept Maps
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Student Understanding of Object-Oriented Programming as Expressed in Concept Maps
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2008 (English)In: SIGCSE Bulletin inroads, ISSN 0097-8418, Vol. 40, no 1, p. 332-336Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Computer Sciences Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-15966 (URN)10.1145/1352322.1352251 (DOI)000265741800078 ()
Available from: 2008-09-12 Created: 2008-09-12 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
3. Concrete examples of abstraction as manifested in students' transformative experiences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Concrete examples of abstraction as manifested in students' transformative experiences
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2008 (English)In: Proc. 4th International Computing Education Research Workshop, New York: ACM Press , 2008, p. 125-135Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: ACM Press, 2008
National Category
Computer Sciences Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-12948 (URN)10.1145/1404520.1404533 (DOI)978-1-60558-216-0 (ISBN)
Available from: 2008-09-13 Created: 2008-09-13 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
4. Student Transformations: Are they computer scientists yet?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Student Transformations: Are they computer scientists yet?
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2009 (English)In: Proc. 5th International Computing Education Research Workshop, New York: ACM Press , 2009, p. 129-140Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: ACM Press, 2009
National Category
Computer Sciences Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-120721 (URN)10.1145/1584322.1584337 (DOI)000282382600014 ()978-1-60558-615-1 (ISBN)
Available from: 2010-03-16 Created: 2010-03-16 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
5. A methodology for exploring students' experiences and interaction with large-scale software through role-play and phenomenography
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A methodology for exploring students' experiences and interaction with large-scale software through role-play and phenomenography
2008 (English)In: Proc. 4th International Computing Education Research Workshop, New York: ACM Press , 2008, p. 27-38Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: ACM Press, 2008
National Category
Computer Sciences Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-12947 (URN)10.1145/1404520.1404524 (DOI)978-1-60558-216-0 (ISBN)
Available from: 2008-09-12 Created: 2008-09-12 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
6. Students' understanding of the concept of interface in a situated context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Students' understanding of the concept of interface in a situated context
2009 (English)In: Computer Science Education, ISSN 0899-3408, E-ISSN 1744-5175, Vol. 19, p. 15-36Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Computer Sciences Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-102282 (URN)10.1080/08993400902819980 (DOI)
Available from: 2009-05-06 Created: 2009-05-06 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved
7. A student perspective on software development and maintenance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A student perspective on software development and maintenance
2010 (English)Report (Other academic)
Series
Technical report / Department of Information Technology, Uppsala University, ISSN 1404-3203 ; 2010-012
National Category
Software Engineering Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-121645 (URN)
Available from: 2010-03-26 Created: 2010-03-26 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved
8. Ways to understand class diagrams
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ways to understand class diagrams
2010 (English)Report (Other academic)
Series
Technical report / Department of Information Technology, Uppsala University, ISSN 1404-3203 ; 2010-013
National Category
Computer Sciences Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-121648 (URN)
Available from: 2010-03-26 Created: 2010-03-26 Last updated: 2018-01-12Bibliographically approved

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