CSE Teaching Committee, Minutes of Meeting, Friday 30 Oct 2009

The meeting commenced at 2:05 PM.

Present: Arcot Sowmya (chair), Paul Compton, Alan Blair, Eric Martin, Peter Ho, Tim Lambert, Nandan Parameswaran, Oliver Diessel, Manuel Chakravarty, Sri Parameswaran, Achim Hoffmann, Kathy Mitris, Jingling Xue, Wayne Wobcke, Arthur Ramer (scribe)

Apologies: Ken Robinson, Bruno Gaeta, Bill Wilson

  1. Minutes of the previous meeting held on 25 Sept were approved.

  2. Actions following from Minutes

    1. The BSc (CS) program revisions and first year course name revisions were approved at Faculty UGEC held on Oct 16th, 2009. UGEC referred the BSc (CS)/LLB new program proposal to Faculty of Law, as the latter is the concerned program authority.
    2. EM has reviewed current postgraduate courses in order to identify those suitable for conversion to hybrid courses; this forms a later agenda item.
    3. SK will start reviewing all fourth year courses in mid November. Review of SE workshops is awaited. Professional Issues and Ethics teaching across all programs appears under a later agenda item.
    4. EM reported that he has the postgraduate project courses under hand, and web pages will be maintained.

  3. Report on Academic Matters

    AS reported on FoE UGEC meeting on 16th Oct:

    1. New majors in BA have been announced by FASS, with each major containing 54 UoC. All schools should update their information, including handbook entries, for all dual degrees affected.
    2. First year structure is due for revision soon.
    3. DipSET will be reviewed soon.
    4. A single BE/BA program with multiple plans will be designed soon. This would take into account the new program rules that state that every program in a combined degree must have 50% of each degree. 72 UoC of Arts courses are now needed in BE/BA, where it is 60 UoC currently. The current combined degree with Commerce provides a template. Any school that wishes to opt out of the new proposal should inform DC soon; presumably the affected programs will then have to be individually revised by the school itself.


    1. CN to update handbook information on (i) above.

    2. Program directors to inform DC on (iv) above.

    EM reported on the new TELE course on Networks Architecture. Faculty PGEC has approved it under a GSOE number, on the understanding that it would be shared between CSE and EET. There was general discussion on postgraduate courses. EM clarified that faculty wide courses have GSOE codes for postgraduate and ENG for undergraduate courses.

    EM also reported on his review of CSE postgraduate courses vis a vis hybrid numbering. His analysis of current courses shows that CSE has the following distribution of postgraduate offerings:

    1. Four courses that are advanced but have an undergraduate course code, and taken by a significant number of postgraduate students, with their proportion in a recent offering shown at the front:
      1. 0.86 COMP 4416 Intelligent Agents
      2. 0.80 COMP 4411 Experimental Robotics
      3. 0.57 COMP 4418 Knowledge Representation and Reasoning
      4. 0.44 COMP 4001 Object-oriented Software Development
      EM recommends that these courses be re-designated by hybrid course codes.
    2. Eleven courses that are advanced, have a postgraduate code, that also contain undergraduate students:
      1. 0.83 COMP9318 Data Warehousing and Data Mining
      2. 0.77 COMP9334 Capacity Planning of Computer Systems and Networks
      3. 0.73 COMP9417 Machine Learning and Data Mining
      4. 0.67 COMP9322 Service-Oriented Architectures
      5. 0.52 COMP9321 Web Applications Engineering
      6. 0.45 COMP9243 Distributed Systems
      7. 0.42 COMP9517 Computer Vision
      8. 0.40 COMP9116 Software System Devel. Using the B-Method and B-Toolkit
      9. 0.40 COMP9333 Advanced Computer Networks
      10. 0.39 COMP9444 Neural Networks
      11. 0.33 COMP9018 Advanced Graphics
      EM recommends *no* change for these courses.
    3. For courses that both have an undergrad and a postgrad course code, EM does *not* favour changing both course codes to hybrid, even though that would simplify and rationalise the system.
    EM also pointed out that AB recommends that a postgraduate degree comprise 80% of strictly postgraduate courses and no more than 20% non-postgraduate courses. CSE has the view that most of our courses can be taught at third or fourth year level, except that it is often not possible to fit in all the available courses into a 4 year program; therefore it makes sense to relegate them to a postgraduate degree. It was pointed out that many of our postgraduate students are actually retraining in CSE and have a rather weak background, as they themselves acknowledge; therefore they still need access to undergraduate courses. In light of this discussion, EM's proposal to re-badge the first four identified courses as hybrid was accepted in principle, after consultation with relevant lecturers.

    ACTION: EM to consult with relevant lecturers, and work with them on revising the identified course codes.

  4. Teaching of Project management in all our programs and Software Engineering in the non-SE programs was taken up next. AS suggested that TC should discuss and identify the core material in these areas; for reference only, the relevant courses are COMP 3711, COMP 3111 and COMP 3141. Currently COMP 3111 is inactive, and doesi not form part of any program; COMP3711 has been taught by SISTM for the past 3+ years; and COMP3141 will be taught by a new lecturer MC next year.

    MC stated that he wishes to revert the course content to match the current handbook description. He plans to use a theorem prover in the course. NP commented that over the past few years, COMP3141 had become a glorified C++ course.

    AS referred TC to KAR's comments on this topic . On teaching of project management (COMP3711), the suggestion is to integrate the topic with a relevant project course. On software engineering (COMP3111), which he reviewed for the school in 2006, KAR suggests that working out the meaning of the phrase `software engineering' is the most pressing problem.

    From discussion of the three courses, it was agreed that there were gaps in the relevant topics covered: PH listed system analysis and design, SP project management and teamwork. ACS and IEAust accreditation requirements were also mentioned, on project management for CE versus software project management for CS.

    It was agreed that a small working group would meet, to consider the teaching of project management in all programs, and software engineering in non-SE programs, in the light of planned changes to COMP3141 contents, and desirable changes in others, in order to benefit a larger number of students in all programs. SP, TL, PH and MC agreed to work in this group, and AS invited KAR to join the group.

    ACTION: Wcworking group with members mentioned to meet and report to TC at its Nov meeting.

  5. Feedback on COMP2911

    WW reported on his experience of teaching a revised COMP2911 in S2, 2009. He made three major changes to the course:

    1. reduced workload, as prior feedback indicated COMP 2911 had a heavy workload; specifically from 4 assignments + team-based project, to 3 assignments + small team-based project
    2. introduced textbook, when previously there was none. He used Horstmann, C., Object-oriented design and patterns, supplemented by notes on search algorithms.
    3. changed course content, with GUI development included as part of OO programming; multi-threaded systems were also introduced.

    WW presented results of a survey conducted in week 12 tutorial session, with 32 responses out of 43. It indicates that the workload was about right, the textbook and textbook slides were helpful in understanding the subject, and GUI programming and multi-threaded systems were accepted as part of the course. A question on including more material on algorithms evinced mixed response, probably reflecting differing student backgrounds.

    TC members commended WW on presenting the report, and suggested that preseting such a report to TC should be a recommended course of action after any major course change is implemented by a lecturer.

    During discussion, it was stated that SISTM would like Java and GUI design for its students, and WW was asked if the current course would suit them immediately after COMP1911. WW responded with a clear no, as the course is not meant to teach Java per se, and does require more preparation and maturity than that provided by COMP1911 alone.

    It was suggested that RB, who will teach the course in S1, 2010, be requested to consider the S2, 2009 offering, the survey results and WW's experience.

    ACTION: RB to check S2, 2009 experience on COMP2911 prior to S1, 2010 teaching.

  6. Teaching of Professional Issues and Ethics in all programs

    AS stated that recently approved changes to the CS program mean that SENG4921 is the course in this area taken by most of our students, with CE the only exception. A recent AB hot topic on ethics teaching at the university triggered the collection of data on current ethics teaching over all programs. The hot topic discussion at AB ended with an offer of help from academics in other schools experienced in teaching this topic. It is timely therefore to review our teaching of ethics in all our programs. AS referred to comments from KAR and BG in this regard.

    Discussion started with the necessary UoC: 3 or 6, and the general view was that 3 UoC is sufficient, but 6 is almost mandatory nowadays. AH and AM suggested that we review the total number of teaching hours. The content taught to students in all programs needs to be reviewed. It was agreed that a small working group would discuss this topic, with a view to providing a uniform experience to all students, while accommodating the program requirements. AB, OD, WW and AH volunteered.

    ACTION: The working group with proposed members to report to TC at the Nov meeting. There was no other business raised.

    Meeting closed at 4:10 PM.

    School of Computer Science & Engineering
    The University of New South Wales
    Sydney 2052, AUSTRALIA

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