Current Projects

What implications do institutional policies have on who studies CS? (2013 - present)

How do policymakers think about diversity in CS? What policies affect diversity and how? And what kinds of policies should be promoted to effectively improve diversity?

And with Horatiu Halmaghi: what are the sustainability implications of policies to promote access to CS?

What’s been published so far:

Why is participation in computing gendered? (2013 - present)

How can we explain the historical and geographical variances in how computer is gendered?

And with Jess Quynh Tran: what insights can queer theory give us for understanding how computing is gendered?

What’s been published so far:


  • Jess will be presenting their work at 4S 2019

What can a disability studies lens show us about computer science education? (2019 - present)

Looking at the relationship between disability, technology, and computer science education.


  • I’ll be presenting at CSA 2019, discussing social theory for understanding “spoonies” (people with chronic fatigue/pain)
  • I’ll be presenting at 4S 2019 on chronotypes, chronodiversity, and technology

How do machine learning educators understand their practice? (2018 - present)

With Lis Sulmont. What pedagogical content knowledge is needed to teach machine learning, parcticularly to people without a CS/math/stats background?

What’s been published so far:

  • An Exploration of Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Teaching Machine Learning to Non-Majors. Elisabeth Sulmont, Elizabeth Patitsas, Jeremy R Cooperstock. SIGCSE 2019. (pdf and slides here)


  • We’ve had a paper accepted in Transactions on Computing Education! Will be published in 2019.
  • And a talk accepted to 4S 2019 on algorithmic literacy

How can we teach STS to people in the computer science community? (2012 - 2013, 2018 - present)

With Horatiu Halmaghi. How can we teach science and technology studies (STS) to computer scientists and computer science students?


  • Horatiu will be presenting at 4S 2019, on an autoethnography of runnning a workshop for CS people about sociopolitical issues

Previously, I participated in an ITiCSE 2012 working group on ‘Computing for Social Good’, focusing on sharing CS1 assignments with social context.

What affects the develompent of teaching assistants? (2009 - 2011, 2019 - present)

Short answer: social support! Staff meetings and team teaching were beneficial for TAs in their development as educators.

With Pierre Theo Klein, we’re looking at how to better support tutors at the CS Help Desk.

Past Projects

Do early childhood experiences relate to computing activities later in life? (2017)

I participated in an ITiCSE 2017 working group examining whether adult reports of their early childhood activities correlated with their later engagement in computing.

Are CS grades bimodal? (2013 - 2016)

It’s commonly said that CS grade distributions are bimodal. But are they? Short answer: no. (with Jesse Berlin)

Blog post about our statistical findings. Excitingly, our findings were replicated! You can replicate our statistical analysis of grades distribution with our code too!

Does having students compare and contrast improve student learning? (2012 - 2013)

Short answer: yes! We found that teaching variants of data structures side-by-side, and having students compare and contrast the different data structures led to more student learning than if you present the different data structures sequentially.

How can we better teach digital logic? (2008 - 2012)

How do we make digital logic labs interesting and engaging for students? I was part of a project to redevelop the lab curriculum for the digital logic course at UBC. During the process I surveyed students and TAs about the labs, to evaluate the curriculum changes.

  • Effective Closed Labs in Early CS Courses: Lessons from Eight Terms of Action Research. Elizabeth Patitsas, Steve Wolfman. SIGCSE 2012. (pdf and slides here)
  • Revitalizing Labs: Lessons from 2.5 Years of Iterative Development and Assessment of Digital Logic Labs. Elizabeth Patitsas, Steven Wolfman, Meghan Allen. SIGCSE, March 2011. Also presented at the CWSEI End-of-Year Event, April 2011. (Poster here)
  • Changes in CPSC 121: Toward a Coherent Picture of Computation. Elizabeth Patitsas, Kimberly Voll. CWSEI End-of-Year Event, April 2010. Also presented at UBC Celebrate Learning, June 2010. (Poster here)
  • Circuits and Logic in the Lab. Elizabeth Patitsas, Kimberly Voll, Mark Crowley, Steven Wolfman. Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education, May 2010. (pdf)
  • Revising an Introductory Computer Science Course: Exploratory Labs, Interactive Lectures, and Just-in-Time Teaching. Gwen Echlin, Piam Kiarostami, Elizabeth Patitsas, Steven Wolfman. CWSEI End-of-Year Event, April 2009. (Poster here)