Sixth International Conference on Learning and Teaching in Computing and Engineering
Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, April 20th - April 22nd, 2018

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Tim Bell
    University of Canterbury, New Zealand

    Tim Bell

    Title: How do we help school teachers get engaged with a new computing curriculum?

    The subject of computer science is appearing in school curricula around the world, sometimes under the title of "Computational Thinking", "Computing" or "Digital Technologies". In most cases it hasn't been taught before, particularly in primary/elementary schools. School teachers play a key role in the success of curriculum changes, but because many aren't familiar with the subject, and probably haven't even studied it in their own schooling, there can be a lot of barriers to getting them to embrace the new subject, let alone teach it with enthusiasm. In this talk we will look at the issues surrounding adoption of the subject, and how they can be overcome.

    Tim Bell is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Canterbury. His "Computer Science Unplugged'' project is being widely used internationally with the supporting materials (books and videos) having been translated into over 20 languages. Tim has received many awards for his work in computing education including the ETH (Zurich) ABZ International Honorary Medal for Fundamental Contributions in Computer Science Education (in 2013) and the 2018 ACM SIGCSE Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education award. Since 2008 he has been actively involved in the design and deployment of the approach to the teaching of digital technologies in New Zealand schools.

  • Professor Carmel McNaught
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong

    Carmel McNaught

    Title: Strategies for Overcoming Assessment Challenges in Computer Science and Engineering Education

    The rhetoric of graduate capabilities being firmly embedded into all undergraduate curricula does not match the reality of the evidence about the limited skill sets that many of our graduating students have when they enter the world of work or graduate studies. I will argue that the solution to this challenging situation lies in focusing substantial energy on assessment reform. Several questions come to mind:

    1. Why have a myriad of attempts been less than optimally successful in improving student learning of fundamental concepts in science and engineering?
    2. To what extent does assessment in university programs support students’ development of graduate capabilities?
    3. How can teachers integrate the so-called ‘soft’ skills of team work, communication, negotiation, etc., with learning the ‘hard’ knowledge and cognitive skills required for effective problem solving?
    4. How can university teachers learn strategies of coping with large first-year classes while still facilitating students to seriously interrogate evidence, and overcome prior learning gaps and unhelpful strategies and ideas?
    5. How can university teachers gain in self-confidence and grow professionally?
    In this keynote, I will refer to two large projects, funded by the Australian government, involving several universities that have tackled these questions in chemistry and mathematics. Good evaluation evidence exists for the success of these projects that have been carefully designed to continue past the end of project funding. I had the privilege of being the External Evaluator on these two projects and was a “critical friend” throughout the journey in each project. The findings from these two projects are consonant with studies in the literature in computer science and engineering education, and some of this literature will be linked to my own experience of supporting these two projects. The first project in university chemistry education tackles the first two questions through a detailed investigation into the assessment design and standards of assessment in chemistry in 22 Australian universities, with an emphasis on final-year assessments. The project has demonstrated a critical (indeed, shocking) situation of weak assessment task design and over-reliance on so-called objective testing. These are serious issues that must be addressed.

    Carmel McNaught is Emeritus Professor of Learning Enhancement and former Director of the Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research (CLEAR) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is also Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa and Adjunct Professor at Auckland University of Technology. Since the early 1970s, Carmel has worked in universities in Australasia, southern Africa and the UK in the fields of chemistry, science education, teacher education, second-language learning, eLearning, and higher-education curriculum and policy matters. She has been involved in several professional organizations and is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education. She is a prolific author on a wide range of educational topics and a sought-after keynote speaker; recent publications and activities can be viewed at She is currently a consultant, working mostly in Africa, Australia, Hong Kong and other countries in Asia, New Zealand, the UAE and the UK.