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Applying Complexity Theory and Project-based Learning onto Project Designs of Complex Computing Systems

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

16

DOI

10.18260/1-2--36690

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36690

Download Count

153

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Paper Authors

biography

Victor E. Lugo Vélez University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus

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Born and raised in Puerto Rico. Finished my Bachelor's in 2017 and my Master's in 2019 in the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüz Campus.

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biography

Nayda G. Santiago University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-6049-8782

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Nayda G. Santiago is professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (UPRM) where she teaches the Capstone Course in Computer Engineering. She received an BS in EE from the University of PR, Mayaguez in 1989, a MEng in EE from Cornell University in 1990, and a PhD in EE from Michigan State University in 2003. She leads the Southeast region of the Computing Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions (CAHSI). Dr. Santiago is NCWIT academic alliance member, member of Henaac, SACNAS, IEEE, and ACM.

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Jose Fernando Vega-Riveros University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus

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I was born in Bogotá, DE, Colombia and received the degree of Electronic Engineer from Javeriana University in 1979. Immediately after I worked for Avianca Airlines in the Communications Division. I then traveled to the USA and obtained my MS and PhD in EE in 1983 and 1989 at Syracuse University. I joined the Electronic Engineering Faculty at Javeriana University from 1990 to 2001. In 2001 I came to University of Puerto Rico where I am a professor at the ECE Department.

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Carmen M. Bellido University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus

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As an education professor working in the Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) since the year 2000, Dr. Bellido has taught the following courses: Human Development, Educational Psychology, Learning Evaluation; Theory and Methodology in the Teaching of History and Social Sciences; and Student Teaching of Mathematics and of Social Studies in Secondary School among others. As a collaborator in the Psychology Department she teaches Introduction courses to School Psychology, Fundamentals of Psychology, and the grad course of Learning and Cognition. As the Institutional Coordinator for the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) accreditation under the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), she directs, coordinates and work in various committees that must complete evaluation cycles to assess the quality of the unit, the programs, teacher candidates, and alumni impact of the Teacher Preparation Program. These evaluation cycles require a diverse toolkit of instruments, educational materials, and protocols to collect and analyze usable and useful data for monitoring and improving the TPP. Efficient and effective collection, analysis, and presentation of results to stakeholders are important parts of the work done for the TPP evaluation cycles.

As the UPRM Center for Professional Enrichment coordinator for 12 years, Dr. Bellido was in charge of organizing faculty professional development activities. This placed her in the advantageous position to disseminate vanguard information about education, evaluation theory and practice which can be useful for both teaching and research faculty. As the UPRM Resource Center for Education Research and Services Center (CRUISE) coordinator since 2002, she has directed and evaluated more than twenty educational research, professional development and outreach projects from 2002 to 2020. These educational research and service projects include higher-education ecosystems for retention and graduation of STEM scholars, project-based learning instruction, classroom action research, professional and virtual learning communities, creating online educational materials, professional development and training for pre-service and in-service teachers, professional development for higher education faculty and a major Math and Science Partnership project. CRUISE has also worked with projects serving k-20 students directly. All these projects share common themes of the creating of curricular materials and applying the latest educational research to improve the teaching – learning dynamics giving Dr. Bellido extensive experience using evaluation to improve learning strategies from primary to graduate school.

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Abstract

Successful project completion is an essential aspect of various technology-oriented organizational structures such as tech companies or capstone courses. However, there is a lack of information on which variables affect successful project completion and how these variables affect each other. In addition, we have not found assessment techniques to determine when groups are moving towards successful project completion accurately. This case study aims to identify which variables, including human factors and complexity, impact successful project completion in small teams of 10 people or less. This case study uses Grounded Theory methodology to record and analyze observations during two years taken from computer engineering students working on their graduation project from a Hispanic Serving Institution capstone course. The study considers the characteristics of Complexity Theory and Project-Based Learning during the observations’ analysis. Additional data collection methods include informal interviews with the students, peer evaluation forms, course faculty meetings to discuss student progress, historical course data from previous semesters, and analyzing project complexity using cyclomatic complexity coefficients. A score of 85 or more points in the final course evaluation characterizes successful project completion. The five variables that affect successful project completion are: project management, teamwork, motivation, mindset, and complexity. However, analysis on project complexity demonstrated little to no variation in the cyclomatic complexity coefficients between projects or semesters. Results suggest that it is crucial to evaluate teamwork, motivation, mindset, and project management before forming a team. Afterward, project management and teamwork play a vital role in a project's progress. Professors and managers should offer practical information on teamwork and project management best practices during this time. Additionally, motivation tends to diminish through the middle to later phases of project development, affecting mindset. Therefore, it is essential that professors and managers remind their teams about their autonomy while working and praise their efforts. These actions should improve team condition and help improve their chances of successful project completion.

Lugo Vélez, V. E., & Santiago, N. G., & Vega-Riveros, J. F., & Bellido, C. M. (2021, July), Applying Complexity Theory and Project-based Learning onto Project Designs of Complex Computing Systems Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36690

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