Special Projects grant scheme – first awards made

Following the first deadline on 30 September, the following applications were successful:

Title of proposalEvaluating LaTeX accessibility solutions
Name(s) and institution(s) of AwardeeNir Oren, University of Aberdeen
Date of Award13 October 2021
Amount of Award£3,884.00
DescriptionLaTeX has – for a long time – been the de facto method for preparing teaching material across a range of mathematical disciplines (e.g., computer science, mathematics and physics). While typesetting equations in LaTeX is easy and visually attractive, the output is not accessible and devices such as screen readers therefore struggle to parse such content. Furthermore, there is now a legal requirement for all lecture material to be accessible to those who utilise assistive technologies (such as screen readers), requiring educators to either rewrite, or manually annotate their already prepared teaching material.   One approach is to convert existing LaTeX documents to HTML, which are then accessible via the javascript MathsJax library. Several technical solutions for doing so have been proposed, and all have their strengths and weaknesses. To date, there has been no end-to-end comparison of these approaches (though guidelines, e.g., have been produced), and in this project, we will carry out – through the use of surveys and interviews – such a comparison from the point of view of those preparing material, and those consuming it. By undertaking this study, we will be in a position to make recommendations to educators across the sector about the tradeoffs between the various tools.
Title of proposalEvaluating student perception of challenge within computer science university education
Name(s) and institution(s) of AwardeeEmmanuel Isibor, Aberystwyth University
Date of Award13 October 2021
Amount of Award£3,013
DescriptionThis project will evaluate the meaning of “challenge” as perceived by students within computer science university education. Key objectives are: Characterizing what makes some modules too challenging.Characterizing what makes some modules insufficiently challenging.Providing a quick way for module coordinators to assess student concerns. Longer term, the results of this study will be used to assess and recommend remedies that help academics find the right level of challenge and ways to manage student expectations.
Title of proposalThrough the eyes of experts: teaching usability inspection methods with expert-cued resources
Name(s) and institution(s) of AwardeeSharon McDonald, Dominic Button and Alastair Irons, University of Sunderland
Date of Award13 October 2021
Amount of Award£3,042
DescriptionThis project will use a novel approach to teaching the tacit “know-how” required to produce robust usability inspections. This will be achieved by modelling the problem discovery and analysis strategies of expert evaluators to produce and evaluate a set of expert-cued inspection teaching resources. This approach will serve as prototype that may be used in other areas of computer science education that require students to use tacit as-well-as explicit knowledge to make judgements, e.g., code reviews.   We aim to collect and analyse usability inspections conducted by experts to capture how and what experiential knowledge they deploy. Eye movements will identify attentional resources; verbal protocols will uncover problem discovery strategies, knowledge resources; and problem reports to elucidate problem analysis strategies.  This data will be analysed and distilled into a set of teaching resources that will be incorporated into a level 6 HCI module for online delivery. The utility of these resources will be evaluated and compared to standard best practice. The resources will be available to HCI educators through a project website. Our results will be disseminated to the broader academic community through published output.
Title of proposalExploring the Landscape of Degree-Level Apprenticeships
Name(s) and institution(s) of AwardeeSebastian Dziallas, University of Glasgow
Further details to follow
Title of proposalAnalysing SQA data to understand uptake and completion of CS at exam level in schools in Scotland
Name(s) and institution(s) of AwardeeFiona McNeill, University of Edinburgh
Further details to follow

The next deadline is Thursday 31 March 2022 – see further information.