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Adaptive Documentation: An Optimized Approach To The Documentation Dilemma

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Interdisciplinary Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.146.1 - 9.146.11



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Paper Authors

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Frank Pietryga

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Gregory Dick

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

Session Number 3150

Adaptive Documentation: An Optimized Approach to the Documentation Dilemma

Gregory M. Dick, Frank W. Pietryga

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown


Instruction in computer programming includes both an introduction to program documentation and opportunities to practice program design and coding. A trade-off exists between these two programming elements (coding and documentation.) Assuming that student time is finite, time devoted to one must come at the expense of the other. A change in programming language from FORTRAN to C required that students devote additional time to coding because of the subtle language complexities of the C language. An approach that permits additional focus on coding while neither abandoning appropriate emphasis on documentation nor overloading the students, is presented. A related effort to improve programming instruction in MATLAB by carefully adapting documentation requirements is discussed.


Instruction in computer programming has been a required component of the Engineering Technology curriculum at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ) since its inception in the early 1970s. The primary goals of the course are to give the students a firm grounding in the basics of: problem solving algorithm development program design, coding, testing and documentation. This paper focuses on the third of these.

The programming course at UPJ has always included programming projects. Nominally, one programming project is assigned each week. No assignment is made in those weeks during which an exam is being administered. In the second half of the course more substantial projects are assigned; these may be intended for one and a half or two weeks duration. The result is that students typically complete about ten programming projects.

Students submit a report documenting their experience with each project. The report includes:

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Pietryga, F., & Dick, G. (2004, June), Adaptive Documentation: An Optimized Approach To The Documentation Dilemma Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12732

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