.

Dr Errol Thompson

Dr E Thompson
Dr Errol Thompson

Teaching Fellow

Computer Science

Profile

I joined Computer Science at Aston University as a Teaching Fellow in July 2011, having spent the previous two years as a Teaching Instructor in Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. I have extensive computing industry and academic experience. I like to combine theory with practice.

My focus is on improving learning in relation to computational thinking, learning to programming, software testing, and economic thinking. The basis of this work is on the use of variation theory to assist learners to understand threshold or core concepts thus enabling them to see the subject in new ways. I am looking at ways of using learning technologies to support this model of learning and conceptual change.

All of my research is aimed at bringing change to the way my learners think and understand the subject. It is driven by a desire for a society that is just, encourages equality, and meets the needs of all things on this planet.

Qualifications & Education

  • BSc in Computer Science, University of Canterbury, NZ, 1975
  • MSc in Computer Science, University of Canterbury, NZ, 1980
  • PhD in Education, Massey University, NZ, 2009

Teaching activity

Research interests

  • Improve learning within the teaching of Computer Science. With specific emphasis on conceptual change around threshold concepts in the teaching of computer science.
  • Use of games to enable people to explore alternative economic strategies. In this context I am influenced by the principles of shalom (wholeness for all of creation).
  • The application of variation theory to the planning of learning opportunities, the assessment of teaching strategies, and the assessment of student learning.
  • The exploration of the utilisation of models for evaluating learning and promoting self evaluation by learners.
  • Scenario-based learning, and game technologies for learning. The implementation of a scenario-based learning environment for the teaching of programming.
  • Tools to visualise software execution with the initial focus on the object-oriented paradigm and the visualisation of program objects and interaction between object in a 3D context.
  • Using game type environments for training commissaires in road race management.

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Association of Computing Machinery
  • European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) 

Selected publications

Book chapters

Thompson, E. (2003). Giving a context to learning. In E. Errington (Ed.), Developing Scenario-based Learning: Practical insights for tertiary teachers (pp. 74-82). Palmerston North: Dunmore Press. ISBN:  0-86469-443-1 

PhD Thesis

Thompson, E. (2008). How do they understand? Practitioner perceptions of an object-oriented program. Dissertation, Massey University, Palmerston North. 

Journal articles

Thompson, E., & Kinshuk. (2011). The nature of an object-oriented program: How do practitioners understand the nature of what they are creating? Computer Science Education, 21(3), 269-287. doi: 10.1080/08993408.2011.607010

Clear, T., Lister, R., Simon, Bouvier, D., Carter, P., Eckerdal, A., Jacková, J., Lopez, M., McCartney, R., Robbins, P., Seppälä, O., & Thompson, E. (2009). Naturally occurring data as research instrument: Analyzing examination responses to study the novice programmer. Inroads - The SIGCSE Bulletin.

Fuller, U., Johnson, C. G., Ahoniemi, T., Cukieman, D., Hernán-Losada, I., Jackova, J., et al. (2007). Developing a Computer Science-specific Learning Taxonomy. Inroads - The SIGCSE Bulletin, 39(4), 152-170.

Refereed Conference Papers

 Whalley, J., Clear, T., Robbins, P., & Thompson, E. (2011). Salient elements in novice solutions to code writing problems. Paper presented at the 13th Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE 2011), Perth, Australia.

Thompson, E. (2010). Using the Principles of Variation to Create Code Writing Problem Sets Paper presented at the 11th Annual Conference of The Higher Education Academy - Information and Computer Sciences, Durham University.

Thompson, E. (2010) From Phenomenography Study to Planning Teaching. Proceedings of the 15th annual conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education. Bilkent, Ankara, Turkey. ACM.

Sheard, J., Carbone, A., Lister, R., Simon, B., Thompson, E., & Whalley, J. L. (2008). Going SOLO to assess novice programmers, Proceedings of the 13th annual conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education. Madrid, Spain: ACM.

Clear, T., Whalley, J., Lister, R., Carbone, A., Hü, M., Sheard, J., et al. (2008). Reliably classifying novice programmer exam responses using the SOLO taxonomy. In S. Mann & M. Lopez (Eds.), 21st Annual conference of the National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications (NACCQ 2008). Auckland: NACCQ.

Simon, Sheard, J., Carbone, A., de Raadt, M., Hamilton, M., Lister, R., et al. (2008). Eight years of computing education papers at NACCQ. In S. Mann & M. Lopez (Eds.), 21st Annual conference of the National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications (NACCQ 2008). Auckland: NACCQ.

Thompson, E., Luxton-Reilly, A., Whalley, J., Hu, M., & Robbins, P. (2008). Bloom's Taxonomy for CS assessment. In Simon & M. Hamilton (Eds.), Tenth Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE 2008) (Vol. 78, pp. 155-162). Wollongong, NSW, Australia: ACS.

Clear, T., Edwards, J., Lister, R., Simon, B., Thompson, E., & Whalley, J. (2008). The teaching of novice computer programmers: bringing the scholarly-research approach to Australia. In Simon & M. Hamilton (Eds.), Tenth Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE 2008) (Vol. 78, pp. 63-68). Wollongong, NSW, Australia: ACS.

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research