Chapter 3 Research

My research interests are in Computer Science Education and pedagogy. (Fincher and Robins 2019; Biggs and Tang 2011; Fry, Ketteridge, and Marshall 2014) I’m interested in methods that can deliver outstanding learning and student experience using innovative techniques like vertical tutoring, industrial mentoring, live music, working with schools, editing Wikipedia and more.

Too many educational practices are not backed up by good evidence that they actually work. More evidence is needed to support many of the claims made about effective pedagogy. _Wikipedian Protester_ cartoon by [Randall Munroe]( at [](  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License

Figure 3.1: Too many educational practices are not backed up by good evidence that they actually work. More evidence is needed to support many of the claims made about effective pedagogy. Wikipedian Protester cartoon by Randall Munroe at Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License


Computer Science has only been taught to undergraduates in the UK for 50 short years (Brackenbury 2005), so there’s lots of open questions about how to teach both the practical and theoretical aspects of the subject. To that end:

3.2 Industrial mentoring

Since we started the Industrial mentoring scheme for software engineers in 2015, more than 1000 students have been through the mentoring scheme with 250 students taking the course every year. We are very grateful for continued support from our industrial partners in making this happen.

Mentors meet with a group of six second year students for two one hour meetings and do some gentle code review of their gitlab repository, as they start to fix bugs and add features to a large open source software project. You don’t need to be an expert in the tools students are using (Java, Eclipse, Jenkins, Git, JUnit and Ant) it is more about the general process (and politics) of building and testing high quality software in large and distributed teams, than the specifics of the codebase ( we happen to be using. Mentors are typically software engineers, both junior and senior.

3.3 Vertical tutoring

We are currently piloting a vertical tutoring (VT) scheme, see vertical tutoring for details. (Barnard 2010; Drury 2013)

3.4 Code Club

I lead an after school CodeClub as part of a global network of free coding clubs for 9–13 year olds. (Smith, Sutcliffe, and Sandvik 2014) The aim is to have fun using Scratch, (Resnick et al. 2009) python and other interesting technology we can get our hands on including Raspberry Pi, (Halfacree 2019) Micro:bits, (Sentance et al. 2017) LEGO® MINDSTORMS®, (Papert 1980; Klassner and Anderson 2003) Oculus Rift, Sonic Pi (Aaron, Blackwell, and Burnard 2016) and CodeBug etc.

3.5 Wikipedia and literacy

Wikipedia and (Vrandečić and Krötzsch 2014; Turki et al. 2019) are powerful tools for improving both digital skills and communication skills, regardless of your age or level of computer literacy, (Proffitt 2018; Reagle Jr. 2010; Littlejohn et al. 2019) particularly in the following areas:

  • Literacy generally, the ability to read and write in any natural language. The literacy skills of some engineers and scientists leaves plenty of room for improvement, but literacy has many overlapping dimensions including:

As an experienced and long serving editor of Wikipedia since 2004, I organise and participate in Wikipedia training events which recruit new Wikipedia editors. Some recent examples include:

  1. 2019-11-22 Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop, University of Glasgow
  2. 2019-10-19 Learn to edit Wikipedia with Ada Lovelace, Sackville Street Building, University of Manchester (Mohammad-Qureshi and Hull 2019)
  3. 2019-10-12 Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon with Zebra Hub HQ, Pankhurst Centre, Manchester
  4. 2017-10-13 Physiology Friday, Hodgkin Huxley House, Farringdon, London (Hull 2017)
  5. 2015-09-02 First Wikipedia Science Conference #wikisci, Wellcome Collection, London, NW1 (Hull 2015; Hodson 2015)

More information on past and future events like this can be found at:

3.6 Tuning complete

Tuning complete are a musical collective and (mostly) boy band from Manchester, Lancashire 🌹, named after the famous Computer Scientist Alan Tuning. We use his eponymous Tuning machine to make music which is quality assured using the Tuning test. As of 2020, our lineup includes the following artists:

Theoretically, we are a Turing Complete band. (Turing 1937; Brailsford 2005) Artistically, this means that what we lack in youth, good looks, fame, fortune, fashion sense, fanbase and back catalogue we compensate for with:

🤓 Musical geekery (Fauvel, Flood, and Wilson 2006)
🤓 Mathematical geekery (Rosenthal 2005)
🤓 Computer geekery (Aaron, Blackwell, and Burnard 2016)

Tuning Complete consists of Jez Lloyd, Steve Furber, Justin Timberfake and me.

Figure 3.2: Tuning Complete consists of Jez Lloyd, Steve Furber, Justin Timberfake and me.

We played our debut gigs to packed theatres of over 200 second year & first year undergraduate computer science students in the autumn of 2019 and are currently planning future live events while writing a (hopefully) lucrative hit single, working title: #LivingTheDream. If you would like to book our services for your next event, hackathon, wedding, bar mitzvah etc, please contact our agent Mrs. Kilburn shown in Figure 3.3.

Mrs. Kilburn is our manager, booking agent and promoter. She is the power behind our boy band throne, so all bookings must be approved and scheduled by her office. Please do not approach band members directly with gig requests or offers of marriage, we are all answered for!

Figure 3.3: Mrs. Kilburn is our manager, booking agent and promoter. She is the power behind our boy band throne, so all bookings must be approved and scheduled by her office. Please do not approach band members directly with gig requests or offers of marriage, we are all answered for!

3.7 Publications

Informal publications can be found on my sporadically updated blog

Formal peer-reviewed publications can be found on DBLP, ORCID, Google Scholar, the ACM Digital Library, Wikidata etc:

According to Google scholar, my most cited papers are on:

  1. Apache Taverna, published in Nucleic Acids Research (Hull et al. 2006)
  2. Another Taverna paper, published in Concurrency and Computation (Oinn et al. 2006)
  3. A paper on modelling human metabolism, published in Nature Biotechnology (Thiele et al. 2013)
  4. A review of tools for managing large bibliographies, published in PLOS Computational Biology (Hull, Pettifer, and Kell 2008)


Aaron, Samuel, Alan F. Blackwell, and Pamela Burnard. 2016. “The Development of Sonic Pi and Its Use in Educational Partnerships: Co-Creating Pedagogies for Learning Computer Programming.” Journal of Music, Technology and Education 9 (1): 75–94.

Barnard, Peter. 2010. Vertical Tutoring: Notes on School Management, Learning Relationships and School Improvement. Grosvenor House Publishing Limited.

Biggs, John, and Catherine Tang. 2011. Teaching for Quality Learning at University. McGraw-Hill Education Ltd.

Brackenbury, Linda. 2005. “Digital 60: An Interview with Linda Brackenbury.” BBC Manchester.

Brailsford, David. 2005. “Turing Complete: Computerphile.”

Drury, Emma. 2013. “A Guide to Vertical Teaching: Advice from Experts and Teachers Who Use Vertical Teaching in Their Schools.” The Guardian.

Facepalm, OMG. 2015. “Dad Dancing, the Number One Way to Embarrass Children.” The Daily Telegraph.

Fauvel, John, Raymond Flood, and Robin Wilson, eds. 2006. Music and Mathematics: From Pythagoras to Fractals. Oxford University Press.

Fincher, Sally A., and Anthony V. Robins, eds. 2019. The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research. Cambridge University Press.

Fry, Heather, Steve Ketteridge, and Stephanie Marshall, eds. 2014. A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Garner, Richard. 2012. “Almost 50 Per Cent of Adults Can’t Do Basic Maths (That Means Half).”

Gowers, Tim. 2016. “Maths Isn’t the Problem - the Way It’s Taught Is.”

Halfacree, Gareth. 2019. The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide. 3rd ed. Raspberry Pi Press.

Hodson, Richard. 2015. “Wikipedians Reach Out to Academics.” Nature, September.

Hull, Duncan. 2015. “Improving the Troubled Relationship Between Scientists and Wikipedia.” In First Wikipedia Science Conference, Wellcome Trust, London. Figshare.

Hull, Duncan. 2017. “Wikipedia at the Royal Society: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” In Physiology Friday: The Physiological Society, Hodgkin Huxley House, London. Figshare.

Hull, Duncan, Steve R. Pettifer, and Douglas B. Kell. 2008. “Defrosting the Digital Library: Bibliographic Tools for the Next Generation Web.” Edited by Johanna McEntyre. PLOS Computational Biology 4 (10): e1000204.

Hull, Duncan, Katherine Wolstencroft, Robert D. Stevens, Carole A. Goble, Matthew R. Pocock, Peter Li, and Tom Oinn. 2006. “Taverna: A Tool for Building and Running Workflows of Services.” Nucleic Acids Research 34 (Web Server): W729–W732.

Klassner, Frank, and Scott D. Anderson. 2003. “LEGO Mindstorms: Not Just for K-12 Anymore.” IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine 10 (2): 12–18.

Littlejohn, Allison, Nina Hood, Martin Rehm, Lou McGill, Bart Rienties, and Melissa Highton. 2019. “Learning to Become an Online Editor: The Editathon as a Learning Environment.” Interactive Learning Environments, July, 1–14.

Mohammad-Qureshi, Sarah, and Duncan Hull. 2019. “Learn to Edit Wikipedia: Thursday 17th October, University of Manchester.” Wiki Loves Scientists.

Oinn, Tom, Mark Greenwood, Matthew Addis, M. Nedim Alpdemir, Justin Ferris, Kevin Glover, Carole Goble, et al. 2006. “Taverna: Lessons in Creating a Workflow Environment for the Life Sciences.” Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience 18 (10): 1067–1100.

Papert, Seymour. 1980. Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. Basic Books.

Proffitt, Merrilee, ed. 2018. Leveraging Wikipedia: Connecting Communities of Knowledge. American Library Association.

Reagle Jr., Joseph Michael. 2010. Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia. The MIT Press.

Resnick, Mitchel, Brian Silverman, Yasmin Kafai, John Maloney, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Natalie Rusk, Evelyn Eastmond, et al. 2009. “Scratch: Programming for All.” Communications of the ACM 52 (11): 60.

Rosenthal, Jeff. 2005. “The Magical Mathematics of Music.”

Sentance, Sue, Jane Waite, Steve Hodges, Emily MacLeod, and Lucy Yeomans. 2017. “Creating Cool Stuff: Pupils’ Experience of the BBC Micro:Bit.” In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education - SIGCSE 17. ACM Press.

Smith, Neil, Clare Sutcliffe, and Linda Sandvik. 2014. “Code Club: Bringing Programming to UK Primary Schools Through Scratch.” In Proceedings of the 45th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education - SIGCSE 14. ACM Press.

Stacey, Andrew. 2009. “How to Respond to ‘I Was Never Much Good at Maths at School’.”

Thiele, Ines, Neil Swainston, Ronan M T Fleming, Andreas Hoppe, Swagatika Sahoo, Maike K Aurich, Hulda Haraldsdottir, et al. 2013. “A Community-Driven Global Reconstruction of Human Metabolism.” Nature Biotechnology 31 (5): 419–25.

Turing, Alan M. 1937. “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem.” Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society s2-42 (1): 230–65.

Turki, Houcemeddine, Thomas Shafee, Mohamed Ali Hadj Taieb, Mohamed Ben Aouicha, Denny Vrandečić, Diptanshu Das, and Helmi Hamdi. 2019. “Wikidata: A Large-Scale Collaborative Ontological Medical Database.” Journal of Biomedical Informatics 99.

Vrandečić, Denny, and Markus Krötzsch. 2014. “Wikidata: A Free Collaborative Knowledgebase.” Communications of the ACM 57 (10): 78–85.