Monday, February 04, 2019

Supply and Demand in Computer Science Education

We have a supply and demand problem in computer science education. Demand has never been higher and it is growing.  The need is real. Take a look at We need as many Computer Science minors as we need Computer Science majors. by Doug Bergman  (@dougbergmanUSA)

I remember having conversations about increasing CS in middle school and what it meant for high schools. What if high schools had a lot of students wanting to do more CS when they got to HS? We've started building up HS CS but we never really asked what was in university for our HS students who got very interested in CS. Now we have to wonder.

Mark Guzdial @Guzdial) in The growing tension between undergraduate and K-12: Is CS for All, or just those who get past the caps? explains the capacity problem at the undergraduate level. Now not all schools are overflowing and the problem is worse at the “big name” schools. Other schools are likely to stat feeling the pinch as HS CS output increases though.

My understanding is that recruiting more CS faculty in undergraduate schools is even harder than recruiting for HS CS teachers. Maybe because we don't require PhDs to teach in HS?

All levels are faced with the problem of industry "eating the seed corn" by hiring for good pay people who might also like to teach computer science. The TEALS program lets industry professionals teach in high schools and volunteers but I don't see that model fitting in universities.

Universities tend to undervalue industry professionals as instructors and evidence by the second (or third) rate status of adjunct professors and the corresponding low pay. Fixing the shortage of undergraduate faculty is going to cost money at a time when administrators seem all about cutting expenses. Some universities are getting some faculty from industry but since for many people coming from industry it is a life style decision not a monetary decision its unclear how often that will work. And while some industry people make great teachers it can be a hard move for some as well.

My biggest worry is that we’ll get students all excited in CS in high school and they will have no place as undergraduates. Not everyone will or should be a CS major, as Doug points out in his post linked above, but a lot of people will want to take CS as a minor or at least take a couple of courses. How will universities handle this?  It’s going to be interesting.

1 comment:

Garth said...

This is sort of the chicken or the egg problem. There are very few full time high school CS positions so universities are reluctant to offer or build CS Ed programs. Since there are almost no CS Ed programs there are very few high school CS teachers even if a high school wanted to offer a CS program. And why would anyone want to go into CS Ed in the first place when they could go into CS and make a lot more money? And besides, as one education professor (he is the department chair) from my local university pointed out, CS is a technical skill after all and should be taught at a vo-tech college. (At this point I called him an idiot. Probably a mistake on my part. I get frustrated at education professors who do nothing but read research and have not been in a K-12 classroom in 30 years except to "observe". Idiots.)