It is not often that our undergraduate exchange students get the opportunity to present their own paper at a real scientific conference. However, Phurpa Tshering from Bhutan together with Dekar Lhamo (Bhutan) and Lu Yu (China) did it under the guidance of their professor, Anders Berglund, who works at our Department of Computer Science. We contacted Phurpa to ask him some questions about his adventures.
- First of all, congratulations! Being an Exchange student and getting papers accepted for a scientific conference is an amazing achievement. How did this happen?
Thank you so much. I and my co-author from Bhutan were undergraduate exchange students for six months at Uppsala University. We took Computer Education Research Course under Prof. Anders Berglund. For the course requirement three of us (my other Bhutanese friend and co-author Lu Yu from China ) developed one course project which talks about Bhutanese beginner IT students. After the completion of the course, Professor Anders encouraged us to write it as a scientific research paper. Where four of us agreed on it and jointly developed it as a scientific research paper.
- Can you explain your research in laymans terms?
Until now no research in Bhutan talks about Bhutanese Information Technology education. So our research mainly shares about beginner IT students from Bhutan. Where we try to explore the ways that beginner IT students in Bhutan learn C programming. And what we found was Bhutanese students also have similar learning styles to that of western students. The only difference is most of Bhutanese IT students tend to learn programming by memorizing and we also found that students are really depended on the teachers and classroom notes. Moreover it seems most of beginner students don’t have computer knowledge.
- How are you now preparing for the conference and when/where is it?
After the completion of course all authors of our paper where in different parts of world two in Uppsala and two in Bhutan but in different states of the country. Therefore meeting was not possible for discussion. So we used online discussion forums like Gmail and Facebook to make our paper ready for the LaTICE 2017 conference which is going to be held at Hong Kong University from April 20 to 23rd. We finally met a day before the presentation at Hong Kong and did rehearsal for our presentation.
- Do you have time to enjoy yourself while in Sweden or is it just study study study?
Yes there was time where I felt exchange is all about work work and work when I had all assignment, projects in same time. Most of the time I use to stay at home completing my course works. But there was also time where I had great moments from the warm welcoming Nations of Uppsala University during special days like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Also enjoyed with many international friends during weekends.
- What did you do in your spare time?
Well everything was memorable for me being from developing country and reaching in worlds well developed country like Sweden. I was really happy and surprised to see warm people from Uppsala University who set welcome desk right at the airport to welcome us that was really not the thing I expected (I would say this is something other countries should learn). Most of the weekends I spent by biking around different places of Uppsala with some international friends.
- Finally, what are your future plans after graduation?
In Bhutan we only have handful of people who have done masters in any field. Most people set up highest level of education as undergraduate. But my plan is to be one of those handful of people who did masters in Computer Science. And if I am lucky enough I would love to continue my masters at Uppsala University. I am also planning to contribute at least one research paper in every LaTICE conference hereafter.
We wish you all the best of luck!
Footnote: The paper is not yet available online but the title is How do first year students learn C programming in Bhutan?
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