Elizabeth Patitsas

About me

I'm a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, studying computer science education. My research interests include gender issues in computer science education, how CS departments make policy decisions about their undergraduate programmes, and how instructors (and TAs) understand their teaching practices.

Contact: my last name @cs.toronto.edu

Office: BA 4202

Pronunciation in IPA: any of /pa'titsas/ (pah-TEET-sahs), /pəˈtitsəs/ and /pʌˈtitsəs/ are good with me. (The original Greek is Πατίτσας.)

Academic History

2013–present Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Toronto Advisors: Steve Easterbrook and Michelle Craig
2011–2013 M.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Toronto Advisors: Steve Easterbrook and Michelle Craig
2007–2011 B.Sc. (Honours) in Integrated Sciences (Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics), University of British Columbia Advisors: Steve Wolfman (academic advisor), Meghan Allen (thesis) and Patrice Belleville (thesis)

My teaching

This term (fall 2015) I'm a help centre TA.

Past teaching

Instructorships at U of T

  • Spring 2015: CSC 120 (Computer Science for the Sciences)
  • Spring 2014: CSC 120 (Computer Science for the Sciences)
  • Spring 2013: CSC 190 (Computer Algorithms and Data Structures)

Teaching assistantships at U of T

  • Fall 2014: CSC 209 (Software Tools and Systems Programming)
  • Fall 2012: CSC 192 (Data Structures and Algorithms)
  • Spring 2012: CSC 258 (Computer Organization)
  • Fall 2011: CSC 148 (Introduction to Computer Science)
  • Fall 2011: CSC 165 (Mathematical Expression and Reasoning for Computer Science)

Teaching assistantships at UBC

  • Summer 2011: CPSC 221 (Basic Algorithms and Data Structures)
  • Spring 2011: CPSC 121 (Models of Computation)
  • Fall 2010: CPSC 121 (Models of Computation)
  • Summer 2010: CPSC 121 (Models of Computation)
  • Summer 2010: CPSC 221 (Basic Algorithms and Data Structures)
  • Spring 2010: CPSC 121 (Models of Computation)
  • Fall 2009: CPSC 111 (Introduction to Computation)
  • Spring 2009: CPSC 121 (Models of Computation)
  • Fall 2008: CPSC 111 (Introduction to Computation)

Other teaching roles at UBC

Published experience reports and teaching demos

Research Publications

On diversity in CS (2013-present)

Looking at organizational, systemic change affecting diversity in computer science.

On instructor perceptions of CS grade distributions

Looking at how CS instructors perceive their grade distributions (with Jesse Berlin).
  • No publications on this yet -- but soon!

Past Projects

On adding social context to CS (2012-2013)

I participated in an ITiCSE 2012 working group on 'Computing for Social Good', focusing on sharing CS1 assignments with social context. Providing social context to CS1 is beneficial for many students -- and disproportionately so for underrepresented groups.

On CS1/2 assessments

I participated in an ITiCSE 2013 working group on collecting and categorizing CS1/2 multiple choice questions.

On using compare+contrast to teach CS2 (2012-2013)

This work was from my Master's thesis. We found that teaching variants of data structures side-by-side, and having students compare and contrast the different data structures led to more student learning than if you present the different data structures sequentially.

On supporting teaching assistants (2009-2011)

Most of this work came out of my undergraduate thesis, which was a qualitative evaluation of teaching assistant experiences in teaching CS at UBC.

On teaching digital logic (2008-2012)

How do we make digital logic labs interesting and engaging for students? I was part of a project to redevelop the lab curriculum for the digital logic course at UBC. During the process I surveyed students and TAs about the labs, to evaluate the curriculum changes.
  • Effective Closed Labs in Early CS Courses: Lessons from Eight Terms of Action Research. Elizabeth Patitsas, Steve Wolfman. SIGCSE 2012. (Slides here)
  • Revitalizing Labs: Lessons from 2.5 Years of Iterative Development and Assessment of Digital Logic Labs. Elizabeth Patitsas, Steven Wolfman, Meghan Allen. SIGCSE, March 2011. Also presented at the CWSEI End-of-Year Event, April 2011. (Poster here)
  • Changes in CPSC 121: Toward a Coherent Picture of Computation. Elizabeth Patitsas, Kimberly Voll. CWSEI End-of-Year Event, April 2010. Also presented at UBC Celebrate Learning, June 2010. (Poster here)
  • Circuits and Logic in the Lab. Elizabeth Patitsas, Kimberly Voll, Mark Crowley, Steven Wolfman. Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education, May 2010.
  • Revising an Introductory Computer Science Course: Exploratory Labs, Interactive Lectures, and Just-in-Time Teaching. Gwen Echlin, Piam Kiarostami, Elizabeth Patitsas, Steven Wolfman. CWSEI End-of-Year Event, April 2009. (Poster here)



Outside my academics, I enjoy rock climbing (mostly indoors), playing strategy board games (my collection), and gardening. I also bike pretty much everywhere, and enjoy cooking vegan food.

Whenever I get the chance, I also love hiking, scrambling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and any other excuse to be around mountains and forests.


These are my cats -- on the left is Geordie, and on the right is his sister Marjane ('Marjie'):

I adopted them as kittens through Annex Cat Rescue. They've been with me since September 3, 2013; and were born on May 24, 2013. I have many, many more photos of them.

Academic Fun

I have an Erdős Number of 4 (Me -> Steve Wolfman -> Richard Anderson -> László Lovász -> Paul Erdős).