Doctoral Consortium Application

Mats Daniels
Department of Computer Systems
Uppsala University
Box 325
S-754 42 Uppsala
Phone: +46 18 4713160
Fax: +46 18 550225
Date of graduation
A wild guess: May 28, 2001.
Short description of my research
I'm director of undergraduate education at the Department of Computer Systems (DoCS). I believe that my research might be best described in the context of DoCS, since we have started a group around Computer Science Education Research at the department and I am involved in most of the activities. Our research is aimed towards the study, the development, and the improvement of undergraduate education in Computer Science and related fields through the use of scientific methods. The goals are pragmatic: the students' learning of Computer Science should become enhanced, their interest in CS encouraged, their study habits improved, as well as us becoming better at composing education programs.
CS Ed research in DoCS
For this context, the most interesting projects at DoCS are:
An overview of one project:
Runestone The International student cooperation in project form (called Runestone) project that just started with me as director is a project that is likely to directly contribute to my PhD research. This project will run for three years and can be shortly described as follows:

This project aims to introduce realistic experience of international collaboration into our undergraduate Computer Science education through joint project work between students in Sweden (Department of Computer Systems (DoCS), Uppsala University) and the USA (Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan). Group projects (typically 5-10 students per team, 5-10 weeks per project) will be incorporated into local courses at the home universities, and students will collaborate closely with their foreign counterparts using appropriate communications and computing technology to solve a given problem. The project's secondary aim is to identify effective support structures for remote international collaboration, encompassing strategies for communication, management, and technology use. The approach will evolve over three years, with a pilot study in 1998, a full presentation incorporating the international collaboration into the year four project course in 1999, and continuing collaboration in 2000.

The project aims to use collaborative project work to afford both personal and professional development for the students, by: - facilitating international contact; - requiring students to accommodate differences in cultural and educational backgrounds in order to form effective international teams; - requiring them to overcome problems arising from language and time zone differences; - maximizing opportunities for peer learning; - exposing students to new techniques for communication, including the use of IT in problem solving. Similarly, staff should benefit through close collaboration with foreign universities, gaining from their counterparts' experience, and from exploration of new teaching methods.

The project will examine and evaluate pedagogical and technical solutions for collaboration between students at the two universities. The experiences from this project should be generalizeable to other departments and other institutions, and the evaluation will aim to distinguish between domain-specific and general lessons, in order to make results more widely accessible for others wishing to educate students for an international marketplace.

Research interests
My research interests can be described by the following list, governed by a firm belief that we need to change and that change must be guided by evaluation:
Why do I want to participate in the consortium
I can see a number of good reasons to participate. The more selfish are that I hope it will mean that I get a clearer focus on the road to completing a Ph.D. in the area of computer science education, that I think I will meet a number of interesting persons with similar interests that I can learn from, that I expect to get excellent advice from the consortium leaders and that I really think I belong in this community. The latter is actually not completely selfish, since I do think I can contribute to others in the area. [I also expect this to be fun :-) ]