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Active And Collaborative Learning Strategies For Teaching Computing

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

IT-based Instructional Technologies

Tagged Division

Information Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.167.1 - 12.167.13



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Paper Authors


Edward Gehringer North Carolina State University

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Edward F. Gehringer is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, North Carolina State University. His research interests include hardware and software support for memory management, architectures for security, object technology, and educational software for collaborative learning.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Active and Collaborative Learning Strategies for Teaching Computing

Edward F. Gehringer North Carolina State University


This paper is a survey of dozens of active and collaborative learning strategies that have been used in teaching computing. The most basic are “think-pair-share” exercises, where students think about a problem, discuss it with their neighbors, and then share it with the rest of the class. Teams may work together in class to solve problems, with the instructor providing written comments. Bringing competition into the picture always helps motivate students, e.g., having final projects compete against each other (e.g., a prey/predator game), or playing a Jeopardy-like game to review for an exam. Many such activities can be carried out online in a lab, or using laptops. A “scavenger hunt” gets students to work in pairs to surf the Web for answers to questions posed by the instructor. In another kind of exercise, students can be assigned to come up with new examples, or exercises, for the text, and then submit to an online peer-review system, where their work is reviewed by others, and the best work selected to be presented to future classes. Another strategy is to have students prepare resources to share with the class. They post these on a wiki, and the lectures become class meetings with an agenda posted on the wiki. The instructor moderates the meeting, and a student takes the minutes, and posts them on the Web. Peer assessment is used for all contributions. The paper concludes with a list of resources that include many more active and cooperative learning exercises.

1. Introduction

In bygone days, the “sage on the stage” was seen as the consummate teacher. Authoritative and entertaining, his words were eagerly listened to by students, and dutifully copied into spiral notebooks. But today, the competition is tougher. Students grow up with interactive games, watch video on their cellphones, and surf the Web from their laptops during class. To be sure, spellbinding lecturers still exist, but most of us would not count ourselves among them. We can still use class time to deliver an abridged oral rendition of the textbook, but the majority of students will see it as a waste of time. We can do better.

Active and collaborative learning strategies (ACL) are a good alternative. They hold the students’ interest and facilitate learning. Leading scholars in cognitive science and educational methodologies such as Patricia Cross5 identify active learning as an underlying principle of good practice in teaching.

The Perry model25 is another way to view student development. The Perry model characterizes students’ intellectual development in terms of their view of knowledge, the roles of instructors and students, the role of peers in the learning process, how evaluation of work should occur, and their intellectual capabilities. The model consists of nine stages that characterize the student in these dimensions, where the later stages represent greater intellectual development. One of the

Gehringer, E. (2007, June), Active And Collaborative Learning Strategies For Teaching Computing Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2754

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