Elizabeth Patitsas

I'm a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, studying computer science education. My research interests include:

Contact: my last name @cs.toronto.edu

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).