Embedding and Scaling Writing Instruction Across First- and Second-Year Computer Science Courses
by Lisa Zhang, Bogdan Simion, Michael Kaler, Amna Liaqat, Daniel Dick, Andi Bergen, Michael Miljanovic, and Andrew Petersen
Abstract: Writing skills are often considered unimportant by computer science students and were under-emphasized in our curriculum. We describe our experience embedding CS-specific writing instruction at scale in most of our large, core, first- and second-year Computer Science courses, each with 300-800+ students. Our approach is to collaborate with a writing specialist and a community of course instructors, centralize the management of writing teaching assistants, and introduce a variety of relevant genres and contexts to help students develop and apply writing skills. We outline the institutional support and organization crucial to a project of this scale. In addition, we report on a survey collecting student perception of the writing instruction/assessment. We reflect on quantitative and qualitative evidence of success, as well as the challenges that we faced. We believe that many of these challenges will be common across institutions, particularly those with large courses.
Bibliography: Lisa Zhang, Bogdan Simion, Michael Kaler, Amna Liaqat, Daniel Dick, Andi Bergen, Michael Miljanovic, and Andrew Petersen. “Embedding and Scaling Writing Instruction Across First- and Second-Year Computer Science Courses.” Proc. of the 54th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2023), Toronto, Canada, March 2023, pages 610–616. [SIGCSE 2023 Best Paper Award]