Approaching me for research projects

Some info to make it easy for both of us

Hello students!

Approaching faculty for finding appropriate research projects is an essential part of your academic life. This post provides some useful tips for making communication easy and efficient for both of us. I will update it from time to time by adding new projects, removing old ones, and modifying some details. Please read carefully before approaching me.

  • First of all, I work in the area of (computing) education research. This is an emerging, interdisciplinary field, with applications of the core CS concepts (like programming language design, natural language processing, etc.) to human-computer interaction, learning theories, and behavioral studies. Make sure you really want to work in this field before approaching me. (Of course, if you simply want to learn more about this field and my interests, feel free to drop an email.)

  • Prerequisites: foremost ones are being proactive, punctual, and having good communication skills1. Mastery in basic computing concepts (CS1/CS2 course concepts, software engineering practices, object-oriented programming) and inferential statistics is essential. Having prior teaching or research experience is desired but not required.

Current projects

Sugamyata: Accessibility in Computing Education

Over a billion people in the world have some disabilities. Global software giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple emphasize developing products that are accessible to everyone and often include accessibility as a preferred skill in their job postings. However, a typical four-year CS curriculum has very little, if any, mention of accessibility. We aim to study the extent to which accessibility is taught in CS curricula in India, develop course content that is accessibility-aware, and evaluate its effects on student learning. It is important to note that teaching accessibility (including accessibility topics in your courses) and teaching accessibly (making your course content accessible) are two different things; our focus is on the former.

Sugamyata (सुगम्यता) means Accessibility in most Indian languages.

Visit our project page for more details and recent updates.

CS1-CS2 Education

CS1 and CS2 stand for the first and second computing courses in a typical four year computing curriculum. In India, these are usually the “Introduction to Programming” and “Data Structures and Algorithms” courses. Literature suggests that these courses are most challenging for students and there is a lot of ongoing research on the topic of how novices learn computing. The project contributes to the work in this field.

Visit our project page for more details and recent updates.

How to contact me

  • Read through the descriptions of my current projects.

  • Email me your resume, the title of the project you want to work on, and a 300-500 word description of why you want to work on that project.

  • Include any relevant information, like teaching or research experience.

  • Mention (a) at least one book2 you have read in the past year, or (b) if you haven’t read a good book in the past year, your all-time favorite book, or (c) if you don’t have a favorite book, your favorite movie or TV show.

If your initial email does not demonstrate that you have read this page, you will not get a response.

Prospective Ph.D. students

I am interested in working with 1-2 Ph.D. students for the Sugamyata project. Interested students should note a few important points:

  • Familiarize yourself with the BITS Pilani admission and completion criteria. Admissions happen through the BITS process; interest from a faculty does not guarantee admission.

  • Please let me know if you are looking for a full-time Ph.D. position or part-time. Full-time students stay on/near the campus and attend classes/meetings regularly. Part-time students typically fulfill the requirements remotely while working in the industry; part-time positions are not advertised every semester.

  • The second bullet under ‘How to contact me’ above is even more important for the Ph.D. applicants. Besides explaining why this particular project, make sure you explain in detail why you want to do a Ph.D. in the first place (what are your career goals, how a Ph.D. in computing education will help you in that, etc.).

Masters' degree (HD) students

For the research practice course, I will expect the following deliverables from you (apart from the final evaluation by the institute):

  • Reading and presenting (to a small group) 2-3 relevant research papers,

  • Developing an artifact (a piece of software and/or a document) that reasonably advances the project.

For thesis or any other course, I will sit with you and discuss the deliverables.

I will work with only a limited number of students, so make sure you approach me well in advance (at least two weeks before the advisor allocation deadlines).

Undergraduate (FD) students

If you are interested in doing your project course(s) with me, please be advised that I will like to see your work before formally assigning you to a project. Keep this in mind and approach me early on so you can work with me without affecting your coursework and graduation schedule. Many second-year students perhaps won’t have enough coursework (OOP, software engineering, statistics) yet but, you can pick up those skills while you work with me informally before starting a formal project course. Expected deliverables are similar to the HD courses, listed above.

I expect FD students to work with me for a Reading Course first, before enrolling for an SOP or similar courses.

  1. Good communication skills need not mean speaking or writing English. The vocabulary of a particular language may limit you at first, but if you can communicate well in one language, you can (with little effort) communicate in other languages too. On the other hand, if you are not able to communicate in any language, including your mother-tongue, it is quite unlikely you will communicate well in English. ↩︎

  2. Any language ↩︎

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