RCS in Programming Assignments

Link to module

Evaluated December 2021

The module provides a template for adding Responsible Computer Science components to almost any programming assignment. The exercises give students opportunities to reflect on the social and ethical impacts of the software they are developing and how they might take responsibility for the impact the software has on people. The material is supportive of many parts of the curriculum, rather than primary, and can be used in an integrative manner alongside content material.

This module supports all areas of the Computer Science curriculum that involve software development or software engineering, but especially Software Engineering/Software Processes and Software Engineering/Software Design.

Instructors adopting this module will find that the general template provides direction, but there is little scaffolding of the process and instructors will need to use their judgement to augment a programming assignment. The questions asked in the Proactive CARE template will be better supported by considerations of different ethical approaches and considerations of power related to race, gender, ability, and social class. Instructors will need to seek out information on the reasoning behind the principles associated with the information in the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Students will need to be oriented to ways of reflection on ethics and social issues and how the CARE template information may be used.

An instructor adopting this module will find a clear rubric for the evaluation of student work. To make this evaluative rubric more available a faculty person will need to redesign some elements so that the learning goals are more clearly communicated to students.


The evaluation of this module was led by Darakhshan Mir and Jaye Nias as part of the Mozilla Foundation Responsible Computer Science Challenge. Patrick Anderson, Emanuelle Burton, Judy Goldsmith, Colleen Greer, Evan Peck, and Marty J. Wolf also made contributions. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.