curricula” and established criteria for accreditation of educational institutions. The Computer Science Accreditation Board (CSAB), cosponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and the Computer Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, has a solid track record in this area. Although some of the most well-established and highly regarded computer science programs are not accredited,29 many institutions with newer programs have become accredited. As these newer programs have followed the CSAB curriculum guidelines and met other criteria for accreditation, their quality is believed to have improved. Thus, model curricula and accreditation are tools for improving institutional programs and raising the standards of formal computer science education.

At the same time, the fact that their graduates are in high demand does not mean that academic programs in computing are doing everything right.30 Academic departments in computer science and related disciplines are often criticized for a variety of perceived weaknesses, such as the following:

  • Devoting too much attention to theoretical topics with little practical application;

  • Allowing curricula to become out of date with respect to technological advancements in the field;

  • Providing students with far too little experience in the practical techniques of building large systems;

  • Offering poorly designed introductory courses that do not attract good students into the discipline; and

  • Failing to place sufficient emphasis on the nontechnical abilities that students need to work effectively in the field, including communication skills, management strategies, and the dynamics of working in a group.

As a rule, these criticisms point to a remaining gap between the academic curriculum and business practice, a point discussed at greater length in Section 7.3.

Finally, it is worth noting that college-level mathematics study almost inevitably begins with the study of calculus. While opportunities for

29  

Colleges and universities do not always seek accreditation of educational programs such as computer science that do not require a license to practice. They generally weigh the costs of accreditation against the benefits in terms of the perceived value accreditation will add to the degrees they award (Adelman, 1997, Leading, Concurrent, or Lagging? The Knowledge Content of Computer Science in Higher Education and the Labor Market).

30  

Roberts, 2000, “Computing Education and the Information Technology Workforce,” white paper.



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