Computer Science: The First Year

Beyond Language Issues

This Panel convened at the 1996 SIGCSE Conference, the panel description appears on pages 389-390 of the Conference Proceedings (SIGCSE Bulletin, V. 28, N. 1, March, 1996).


Although a language war continues to rage, the goals and objectives in the first year of computer science courses may be strikingly similar across institutions and languages. Each panelist will provide a list and rationale of the most important things students should ``get" in CS1 and CS2 courses.

The first year is addressed, rather than the first course, since similarities emerge more distinctly when the entire first year is used as the metric. Panelists may address both courses individually as well as addressing the first year as a whole.

Each panelist uses a different language in CS 1 --- languages represented include (alphabetically) Ada, C++, Eiffel, ISETL, Pascal, and Scheme. Panelists will discuss the goals of their first year courses, addressing both CS1 and CS2 when appropriate. An internet survey of educators will be used to generate another list of goals.

Perhaps this will help us as computer science educators focus on what is similar rather than on what is different. How languages and other issues affect these goals will be used to generate panel and audience discussion.