My name is Andrew Luxton-Reilly (originally Andrew Luxton, but I changed my name when I married, much to the surprise of my students). I came from a background in the liberal arts, studying subjects like Media, Ancient History, Psychology and Philosophy and I loved it. I completed a Masters of Arts in Philosophy before eventually conceding that a more applied subject would improve my career opportunities. I was fortunate to be finishing my studies at a time when student numbers in Computer Science were growing rapidly and I fell into a teaching position in the Computer Science Department at The University of Auckland in New Zealand, more by accident than by design. I have been a member of the faculty since 1995, but spent the first 10 years teaching, and have only been involved in Computer Science Education Research since 2005.
The majority of my research has related to Contributing Student Pedagogies, which bring the ideas of user-generated content into the Educational ambit. More recently, I’ve become interested in trying to describe and measure the various things that make programming code difficult to understand. I’ve also been involved in a few ITiCSE working groups, which I highly recommend to anyone who gets the chance.
I’ve been teaching what are considered to be large classes by our standards, averaging around 400 students (although before the decline in CS enrolments some classes peaked at almost 850 students). Most of this teaching has been with novice programmers, either in CS0, CS1 or CS2. Although I love teaching the introductory sequence, I was gratified to have had the opportunity this year to develop and teach a new graduate course in Computing Education.
A new role that I’ve taken on recently has been membership in the University of Auckland Human Participant Ethics Committee – in other words, the institutional ethics review board. I’ve only been on the committee for a few months so far, but it is fascinating to be on the other side of the fence when it comes to approving research studies. I expect to write more on some of the issues that arise in future.
It is almost Christmas, which means long days on the beach and BBQs in the sun. Once again, I have to explain to my (5 yr old) son that it won’t snow on Christmas, regardless of what he sees on cards, books, TV shows, movies and merchandise. What is normal for one culture doesn’t always apply in another, and it is only through exposure to a diversity of views that we realize how much we inherit from tradition, and how different things could be!
I hope that my contributions here will add to the diversity of views on CS Education from around the world – but not until I get back from my summer holidays