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Project Description

Incorporating Communication Outcomes into the Computer Science Curriculum

Project Abstract:

To be successful in their careers, computer science graduates need, in addition to in-depth technical knowledge, the ability to communicate and collaborate with a variety of audiences. To achieve this goal, it is important that students have instruction and practice in computational thinking and in communication skills throughout their curriculum. This project, Incorporating Communication Outcomes into the Computer Science Curriculum, will build upon two earlier CPATH projects to create a transformative approach to fully integrate communication instruction and activities throughout the curriculum in ways that enhance rather than replace their learning of technical content. The outcomes of this project will include: model curricula and syllabi for computer science and software engineering programs that capture and assess student learning outcomes generated in collaboration with industry; comprehensive support materials, including communications learning activities to address the learning outcomes identified by this project; demonstration and evaluation at two institutions with two very different academic profiles; and dissemination of results to raise nationwide awareness of this innovative approach.

This project will generate guiding concepts and disseminate resources that can be adapted by other institutions to meet nationwide needs for CS and SE graduates with better communication abilities while maintaining a mastery of technical content and computational thinking. The new curricula will serve as models for similar programs at other schools, the development of which will be supported by a series of workshops involving partners from industry and academia. The industry involvement will ensure that our graduates have the skills to meet their communication needs and the involvement of our academic partners will both leverage their expertise and encourage their adoption of the outcomes, curricula, and activities developed during this project. Graduating CS and SE students with effective computational thinking and communication skills will positively influence interactions and communications between practitioners in CS and other disciplines and thus enhance the benefits, impact and quality of CS upon society. We expect that an additional benefit may be that CS and SE will become more attractive to underrepresented groups, especially women, by making it clear that communication between people is an essential part of any computing career.

This work was funded by NSF CPATH-II Awards CCF-0939122 and CCF-0939081. Opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).