50 Years of CS1 at SIGCSE: A Review of the Evolution of Introductory Programming Education Research

I’m really excited to be presenting a paper titled “50 Years of CS1 at SIGCSE: A Review of the Evolution of Introductory Programming Education Research” with Keith Quille at this year’s ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education. The paper is part of the SIGCSE Technical Symposium’s 50th anniversary celebration. After the presentation, there is a 50-minute discussion moderated by James Caristi. The discussants are David G. Kay, Donna Gavin and myself. We hope to have a lively conversation with the audience and I’m really looking forward to it. The paper is available from the ACM Digital Library via here: www.brettbecker.com/publications. The presentation is Thursday, February 28 at 1.45PM in Hyatt: Great Lakes A1 & A2 (4th floor). The hashtag for Twitter is #SIGCSE50CS1.

Keith and I had a great time putting this paper together. We looked at 777 SIGCSE Technical Symposium papers from 1970 to 2018 and after applying exclusion criteria ended up with 481 papers presented over the first 49 years of the SIGCSE Technical Symposium that focused on Introductory Programming. We categorized these papers into eight top-level categories and 54 subcategories. We then plotted a decade-by-decade trend for each of the eight top-level categories. It was really interesting to see how certain topics ebbed and flowed over the decades. The paper provides a brief discussion on each top-level category and many of the subcategories. I look forward to discussing these further at the session. Below are the main two figures from the paper:

Figure 1: TreeMap of 483 CS1 papers in 8 categories and 54 subcategories from the first 49 years of the SIGCSE Technical Symposium. The area of each rectangle is proportional to the number of papers in each topic area. More details are discussed in Section 5 of the paper.

 

Figure 2. 50-year trends of the 8 top-level categories in introductory programming at the SIGCSE Technical Symposium. To compensate for the fact that the overall number of papers published in each decade has steadily increased, we normalized the number of papers per decade by dividing the number of papers per top-level category in each decade by the total number of papers in our dataset published in each given decade.

We also have made available some supplementary information in the form of a CSV file providing the following information for each of the 483 papers we looked at: Author, Title, Proceedings, Year, Category, URL, Citations, Citations / Year. That is available at www.brettbecker.com/sigcse2019.

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