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Professor Anthony Robins

Anthony_226

Owheo Building, Room 2.53
Phone: +64 3 479 8314
Email: anthony@cs.otago.ac.nz

My background is in psychology and linguistics at the University of Canterbury (NZ), and cognitive science at the University of Sussex (UK). I joined the department as a lecturer in artificial intelligence in August 1989. My main areas of research are neural networks and computer science education.

I am interested in neural networks as a tool for modeling cognition, with a particular focus on modeling aspects of memory and forgetting. Much of my research has explored the problem known as "catastrophic forgetting", and whether the "pseudorehearsal" solution that I propose has anything to do with dreams (the consolidation of learning during sleep). I am part of the artificial intelligence group, which includes such topics such as defeasible reasoning.

My second main research focus is computer science education, particularly the teaching and learning of a first programming language. Introductory "CS1" programming courses typically have very rates of both failing and of excellent grades (with fewer "mid-range" grades than usual). I think that we can make sense of this apparent paradox in terms of the mechanisms of learning and the unusually dense / interconnected nature of programming language constructs. I have been involved in two international studies of novice programmers, the Scaffolding and BRACE projects.

I teach and coordinate COMP160, the Department's introductory programming paper (Java), and COSC420 Neural Networks. In 2012 I was awarded an Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award. I love teaching at all levels, and have been involved with many robotics projects for local high schools, including helping to run the annual RoboCup Junior Otago competition.

Selected Publications

For more publications, please check my Google Scholar profile.

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Publications

Samarasekara, C. K., Ott, C., & Robins, A. (2021). Students' perspectives on high school CS education in NZ. Proceedings of the 26th ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE) (Vol. 2). (pp. 646). New York, NY: ACM. doi: 10.1145/3456565.3460070

Munasinghe, B., Bell, T., & Robins, A. (2021). Teachers' understanding of technical terms in a Computational Thinking curriculum. Proceedings of the 23rd Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE). (pp. 106-114). New York, NY: ACM. doi: 10.1145/3441636.3442311

Atkinson, C., McCane, B., Szymanski, L., & Robins, A. (2021). Pseudo-rehearsal: Achieving deep reinforcement learning without catastrophic forgetting. Neurocomputing, 428, 291-307. doi: 10.1016/j.neucom.2020.11.050

Lewis, C. M., Bell, T., Blikstein, P., Carter, A. S., Falkner, K., Fincher, S. A., … Haden, P., … Robins, A., … Shephard, K., … Yadav, A. (2020). The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research summarized in 75 minutes. Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE). (pp. 323-324). ACM. doi: 10.1145/3328778.3366988

Robins, A. V. (2019). Novice programmers and introductory programming. In S. A. Fincher & A. V. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of computing education research. (pp. 327-376). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108654555

Fincher, S. A., & Robins, A. V. (Eds.). (2019). The Cambridge handbook of computing education research. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108654555

Edited Book - Research

Fincher, S. A., & Robins, A. V. (2019). An important and timely field. In S. A. Fincher & A. V. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of computing education research. (pp. 1-8). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108654555

Chapter in Book - Research

Robins, A. V. (2019). Novice programmers and introductory programming. In S. A. Fincher & A. V. Robins (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of computing education research. (pp. 327-376). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108654555

Chapter in Book - Research

Robins, A. (2017). Learning and teaching programming. In P. A. Laplante (Ed.), Encyclopedia of computer science and technology (Vol. 2). (2nd ed.) (pp. 551-561). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. [Encyclopaedia/Dictionary Entry].

Chapter in Book - Research

Robins, A. (2012). Learning edge momentum. In N. M. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the sciences of learning. (pp. 1845-1848). New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6

Chapter in Book - Research

Robins, A. V. (1998). Transfer in cognition. In S. Thrun & L. Pratt (Eds.), Learning to Learn. (pp. 45-67). Dordrecht, Germany: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Chapter in Book - Research

Atkinson, C., McCane, B., Szymanski, L., & Robins, A. (2021). Pseudo-rehearsal: Achieving deep reinforcement learning without catastrophic forgetting. Neurocomputing, 428, 291-307. doi: 10.1016/j.neucom.2020.11.050

Journal - Research Article

Gorman, C., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2017). Hopfield networks as a model of of prototype-based category learning: A method to distinguish trained, spurious, and prototypical attractors. Neural Networks, 91, 76-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2017.04.007

Journal - Research Article

Ott, C., Robins, A., & Shephard, K. (2016). Translating principles of effective feedback for students into the CS1 context. ACM Transactions on Computing Education, 16(1), 1. doi: 10.1145/2737596

Journal - Research Article

Ott, C., Robins, A., Haden, P., & Shephard, K. (2015). Illustrating performance indicators and course characteristics to support students’ self-regulated learning in CS1. Computer Science Education, 25(2), 174-198. doi: 10.1080/08993408.2015.1033129

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. (2015). The ongoing challenges of computer science education research. Computer Science Education, 25, 115-119. doi: 10.1080/08993408.2015.1034350

Journal - Research Article

Bell, T., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2014). A case study of the introduction of computer science in NZ schools. ACM Transactions on Computing Education, 14(2), 10. doi: 10.1145/2602485

Journal - Research Article

Walles, H., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2014). A perceptually grounded model of the singular–plural distinction. Language & Cognition, 6(3), 327-369. doi: 10.1017/langcog.2014.9

Journal - Research Article

Rountree, J., Robins, A., & Rountree, N. (2013). Elaborating on threshold concepts. Computer Science Education, 23(3), 265-289. doi: 10.1080/08993408.2013.834748

Journal - Research Article

Dutt-Mazumder, A., Button, C., Robins, A., & Bartlett, R. (2011). Neural network modelling and dynamical system theory: Are they relevant to study the governing dynamics of association football players? Sports Medicine, 41(12), 1003-1017. doi: 10.2165/11593950-000000000-00000

Journal - Research Article

Lamb, P. F., Bartlett, R. M., & Robins, A. (2011). Artificial neural networks for analyzing inter-limb coordination: The golf chip shot. Human Movement Science, 30, 1129-1143. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2010.12.006

Journal - Research Article

Lamb, P. F., Müendermann, A., Bartlett, R. M., & Robins, A. (2011). Visualizing changes in lower body coordination with different types of foot orthoses using self-organizing maps (SOM). Gait & Posture, 34(4), 485-489. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.06.024

Journal - Research Article

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2010). Self-organising maps: An objective method for clustering complex human movement. International Journal of Computer Science in Sport, 9(1), 20-29. Retrieved from http://iacss.org/index.php?id=94

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. (2010). Learning edge momentum: A new account of outcomes in CS1. Computer Science Education, 20(1), 37-71. doi: 10.1080/08993401003612167

Journal - Research Article

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., Robins, A., & Kennedy, G. (2008). Self-organizing maps as a tool to analyze movement variability. International Journal of Computer Science in Sport, 7(1), 28-39.

Journal - Research Article

Walles, H., Knott, A., & Robins, A. (2008). A model of cardinality blindness in inferotemporal cortex. Biological Cybernetics, 98(5), 427-437.

Journal - Research Article

Abraham, W. C., & Robins, A. (2005). Memory retention: The synaptic stability versus plasticity dilemma. Trends in Neurosciences, 28(2), 73-78.

Journal - Research Article

Tenenberg, J., Fincher, S., Blaha, K., Bouvier, D., Chen, T.-Y., Chinn, D., … Robins, A., … VanDeGrift, T. (2005). Students designing software: A multi-national, multi-institutional study. Informatics in Education, 4(1), 143-162.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. (2004). Sequential learning in neural networks: A review and a discussion of pseudorehearsal based methods. Intelligent Data Analysis, 8(3), 301-322.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. V., & McCallum, S. J. R. (2004). A robust method for distinguishing between learned and spurious attractors. Neural Networks, 17, 313-326.

Journal - Research Article

Rountree, N., Rountree, J., Robins, A., & Hannah, R. (2004). Interacting factors that predict success and failure in a CS1 course [Reviewed paper]. Inroads: The SIGCSE Bulletin, 36(4), 101-104.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. V., Rountree, J., & Rountree, N. (2003). Learning and teaching programming: A review and discussion. Computer Science Education, 13(2), 137-172.

Journal - Research Article

Rountree, N., Rountree, J., & Robins, A. V. (2002). Predictors of success and failure in a CS1 course. Inroads: The SIGCSE Bulletin, 34(4), 121-124.

Journal - Research Article

Frean, M. R., & Robins, A. V. (1999). Catastrophic forgetting in simple networks: An analysis of the pseudorehearsal solution. Network, 10, 227-236.

Journal - Research Article

McCallum, S. J. R. J. R., & Robins, A. V. (1999). Mechanisms for memory consolidation. New Zealand Journal of Computing, 7, 13-20.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. V., & McCallum, S. J. R. J. R. (1999). The consolidation of learning during sleep: Comparing the pseudorehearsal and unlearning accounts. Neural Networks, 12, 1191-1206.

Journal - Research Article

Frean, M. R., & Robins, A. V. (1998). Catastrophic forgetting and "pseudorehearsal" in linear networks. Australian Journal of Intelligent Information Processing Systems, 5, 44-49.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. V., & Frean, M. R. (1998). Local learning algorithms for sequential tasks in neural networks. Advanced Computational Intelligence, 2, 221-227.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. V., & McCallum, S. J. (1998). Catastrophic forgetting and the pseudorehearsal solution in Hopfield type networks. Connection Science, 10, 121-135.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. V. (1996). Consolidation in neural networks and in the sleeping brain. Connection Science, 8, 235-251.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. V. (1996). Transfer in cognition. Connection Science, 8, 161-179.

Journal - Research Article

Robins, A. V. (2005). A day in the library. Annals of Research on Engineering Education, 1. Retrieved from http://www.areeonline.org/?id=3928

Journal - Research Other

Munasinghe, B., Bell, T., & Robins, A. (2021). Teachers' understanding of technical terms in a Computational Thinking curriculum. Proceedings of the 23rd Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE). (pp. 106-114). New York, NY: ACM. doi: 10.1145/3441636.3442311

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Samarasekara, C. K., Ott, C., & Robins, A. (2021). Students' perspectives on high school CS education in NZ. Proceedings of the 26th ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE) (Vol. 2). (pp. 646). New York, NY: ACM. doi: 10.1145/3456565.3460070

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Lewis, C. M., Bell, T., Blikstein, P., Carter, A. S., Falkner, K., Fincher, S. A., … Haden, P., … Robins, A., … Shephard, K., … Yadav, A. (2020). The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research summarized in 75 minutes. Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE). (pp. 323-324). ACM. doi: 10.1145/3328778.3366988

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

McCane, B., Ott, C., Meek, N., & Robins, A. (2017). Mastery learning in introductory programming. Proceedings of the Nineteenth Australasian Computing Education (ACE) Conference. New York, NY: ACM. doi: 10.1145/3013499.3013501

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Ott, C., Robins, A., & Shephard, K. (2014). An infographic to support students' self-regulated learning. Proceedings of the 14th Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education. (pp. 177-178). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2674683.2674705

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Thompson, D., Bell, T., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2013). The role of teachers in implementing curriculum changes. Proceedings of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE). (pp. 245-250). ACM. [Full Paper]

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Walles, H., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2013). A neural network model of visual attention and group classification, and its performance in a visual search task. In S. Cranefield & A. Nayak (Eds.), Advances in Artificial Intelligence: Lecture notes in artificial intelligence (Vol. 8272). (pp. 98-103). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-03680-9_11

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Bell, T., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2012). Computer Science in NZ high schools: The first year of the new standards. Proceedings of the 43rd Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE). (pp. 343-348). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2157136.2157240

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Bell, T., Newton, H., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2012). The introduction of computer science to NZ high school: An analysis of student work. Proceedings of the 7th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education (WiPSCE). (pp. 5-15). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2481449.2481454

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Fincher, S., Tenenberg, J., & Robins, A. (2011). Research design: Necessary bricolage. Proceedings of the Seventh International Workshop on Computing Education Research (ICER). (pp. 27-32). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2016911.2016919

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2011). Assessing coordination stability by means of a second SOM. In D. Link & J. Wiemeyer (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sportinformatik trifft Sporttechnologie [Computer science meets sports Sports Technology: 8th Symposium of the dvs Sktion sports computer science in cooperation with the German Interdisciplinary Association of Sports Technology]. (pp. 65-69). Feldhaus. [Full Paper]

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Lamb, P., Müendermann, A., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2011). Artificial neural network analysis of coordination between different types of shoe orthotics. In D. Link & J. Wiemeyer (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sportinformatik trifft Sporttechnologie [Computer science meets sports Sports Technology: 8th Symposium of the dvs Sktion sports computer science in cooperation with the German Interdisciplinary Association of Sports Technology]. (pp. 70-74). Feldhaus. [Full Paper]

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2010). Self-organising maps: An objective method for clustering complex human movement. In K. Lyons, A. Baca & A. Lebedew (Eds.), Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium of the International Association of Computer Science in Sport. (pp. 104-113). University of Canberra, Australia: National Institute of Sport Studies. Retrieved from http://www.box.com/shared/2blgcmfi61

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

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