Integrating Recent Research Results into the Undergraduate Curricula:

An NSF-Sponsored Workshop at
The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA

July 7-11, 1997

See: For additional information and latest updates, see

This workshop will bring together undergraduate computer science faculty from colleges throughout the United States with leading researchers in three areas of computer science to consider how undergraduate computer science curricula might be improved in the light of the certain research results.

Some critics of current curricula argue that the contact between current advanced research in computer science and undergraduate curricula needs to be improved, that important recent research takes too long to make its way into the education of undergraduates. They often go on to say that the situation is particularly difficult at small colleges, where faculty face particularly large teaching loads, broad teaching responsibilities (often outside their own specialization) and ongoing reductions in support for their own research. The increasing pace of advanced technology and research in computer science, and the ease of confounding new technology with current research, exacerbates the situation.

Undergraduate faculty need to stay current with cutting-edge developments in their fields, and to include those developments in their teaching. As emerging global competition begins to provide cheaper ways of accomplishing standard production programming jobs, U.S. programmers will need to rely more and more on their capacity to innovate and stay at the very edge of developments in the field. Their education as undergraduates needs to prepare them for this ongoing professional development and continuing education. The right sort of attention to recent research results may be an essential component in providing students with the education they need to successfully meet the long term demands of careers as software developers or to begin graduate study.

Our objective at Evergreen has been to figure out ways to "broker" research that holds promise by (1) establishing working relationships between undergraduate faculty at Evergreen and researchers at the Oregon Graduate Institute (a nearby research institution), (2) developing materials in three target areas that could be integrated into an existing curricula without adding additional courses, (3) articulating teaching modes particularly suitable for conveying research results, (4) establishing contacts with regional educational institutions, employers of our graduates, and the graduates themselves to enhance, disseminate, evaluate and sustain our efforts, and (5) developing a model for non-Ph.D. granting institutions to initiate programs of excellence in advanced computer science. The 1997 workshop is one attempt to study these areas with other undergraduate institutions, jointly develop curricular ideas, and to share our results.

Four Interest Areas:
Participants in the workshop will explore the current state of undergraduate computer science curricula and ways in which they might be better informed by both recent research and the actual professional demands of software development. The workshop will focus on four interest areas, and participating faculty will select one of the four in which to specialize: