From 1987 to the end of 1992, Marilyn and I edited and produced a newsletter in support of Christian ministry groups using computers. A friend in
Now scanning isn’t exactly a challenging job so I distract myself by reading some of the articles. As I scanned issue 13 (January/February 1990, I noticed that I had placed an item in the newsletter saying that I was looking for work. In the article, I said “The computer industry in
On return, the industry had indeed slumped and I found myself not being able to find work. At the time, the employment agencies were saying that because my experience was in mainframe computer programming, I was not a suitable candidate for the new microcomputer programming market. Despite trying to show them evidence that in the twelve months before I left for Japan, I had learnt a new midrange system and was programming that and could easily do the same with microcomputers (I was already programming them to run a bulletin board system), they declined to put me forward for any jobs. As a result, I was unemployed for approximately six months before taking up a position teaching programming using Pascal on microcomputers.
Now, I find myself again unemployed and again partly by choice but also partly because the institution that I was at did not value my research efforts. Although I am applying for positions, I am not going to employment agencies. This is in part because I have my thesis to write and I don’t want to take up a new position and find I can’t finish it according to the schedule. However, I do see parallels between the two stories. My university told me that I didn’t have the credentials for a research position but I could have a tutoring position and do a little research on the side. Like the employment agencies telling me that I could not possibly programming microcomputers, I feel the university is mistaken. Do I have any evidence? I feel the acknowledgement of my research by the computing education research community at the Australasian Computing Education conference and the positive support and encouragement that I have received from my supervisors over the last week.
My thesis will not be a Computer Science PhD as my supervisor is in the
Coming back to the question “does that make me no longer a computer scientist?” I would argue that it does not. My primary results are about the understanding or perceptions that people have of object-oriented programming. In order to be able to write on that theme, I do need to have a reasonable understanding. During the interviews for the research, my knowledge of object-oriented programming was both a help and a hindrance. It was a help in the sense that I knew I was being given good data by the interviewees and I could recognise key words that related to the topic. But it was a hindrance because it was too easy for me to assume that the interviewee was using those words in the way that I understood them.
So yes, I regard myself as a computer scientist although I may lack the current mathematical background used by some to validate their theories in the field. More importantly, I regard myself as a computer science educationalist with an increasingly strong educational background. This is a rare commodity in this field and is reflected in the nature of the papers presented at conferences.
I may not do theoretical computer science research but there is a lot of uncovered ground that needs to be explored that relates to computer science education and I look forward to continued participation in this field. And yes, like the 1990 change, this is another slight change in direction.