Connecting Computing with Other Disciplines
and the Wider Community
common topics for CS1 (e.g., conditionals, iteration and recursion, arrays,
common algorithms). Then separate
problem sets and programming assignments connect with separate disciplines
and backgrounds (e.g., pre-calculus,
calculus, statistics, chemistry, physics).
• When a computing faculty can agree
upon common learning goals and problem-solving techniques for CS1, then different courses (perhaps utilizing different
languages and applications) can address
different audiences, but each course
provides appropriate background for the
next course, CS2. These multiple tracks
in CS1 require substantial discussion and
planning, but have been quite effective in
meeting diverse needs while bringing a
range of students to computing.
With these alternatives, applications
and techniques within CS1 may provide desired background for client’s program, but
the computing background and algorithmic problem solving also allows students
to progress within the mainstream computing program.
COOPERATION AND COLLABORATION
WITH OTHER FACULTY
Beyond the introductory level, connections
with faculty outside computing may take
many forms. The following list just begins
to identify some options.
• Sitting in on courses: Over the years,
faculty from several departments (e.g.,
physics, anthropology, French, library,
psychology) have sat in my CS1 or CS2
courses. These faculty had specific needs
for their scholarship, and attending
my class regularly seemed an efficient
means to gain needed experience. This
contact also can open wonderful possibilities for publicity and collaboration.
• Team teaching: Reports from several
campuses describe course offerings
that include faculty from two [or more]
departments. For example, a bioinfor-
matics course might include both com-
puting and biology faculty, and students
might be recruited from both fields. In
the humanities, examples might include
faculty and students from music or art
as well as computing. With two faculty
for one course, staffing costs can be
expensive, but students see contrasting
perspectives on the subject at hand.
• Faculty-faculty tutorials: On some campuses, programs (sometimes funded by
Grant(s) or a Dean’s Office) may provide
support through which one faculty
member can study another’s field (or
two faculty can methodically explore
each other’s subjects). Such tutorials
often promote interdisciplinary scholarship, grants, and publications.
• Research/development opportunities:
Discussions between computing faculty
and other scholars may uncover computing needs. At Grinnell, such conversations often identify projects, in which
computing students can contribute to
research teams throughout a college
or university. When student demand
for computing-based projects exceeds
what computing faculty can support,
interdisciplinary connections may help
provide other opportunities.
In summary, compelling motivations
(philosophical, strategic, practical) exist for
computing programs to reach out to outside
disciplines and engage in interdisciplinary
projects. However, today’s circumstances
also may present substantial obstacles
for expanded engagement. A range of
approaches may be available for collaboration, although details almost certainly
depend upon local circumstances.
1. Baldwin, D., Walker, H. M., and Henderson, P. B. The
roles of mathematics in computer science. ACM
Inroads, 4, 4 (December 2013), 74-80.
2. Committee on the Undergraduate Program in
Mathematics (CUPM), 2015 CUPM Curriculum Guide,
The Mathematical Association of America (MAA),
2015; http://www.maa.org/node/790342. Accessed
2017 February 4.
3. Grinnell College, Mission and Values, Mission
Accessed 2017 February 3.
4. Wing, J. M. Computational Thinking. Communications
of the ACM, 49, 3 (March 2006), 33-25.
Henry M. Walker
Department of Computer Science
Noyce Science Center
1116 Eighth Avenue
Grinnell, Iowa 50112
DOI: 10.1145/3078315 Copyright held by author.
This quarterly publication is a
quarterly journal that publishes
refereed articles addressing issues
of computing as it impacts the
lives of people with disabilities.
The journal will be of particular
interest to SIGACCESS members
and delegrates to its affiliated
conference (i.e., ASSETS), as well
as other international accessibility