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Customer Based Course Development – Creating A First Year Programming Course For Engineers And Scientists

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Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Programming for Engineering Students II

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

8

Page Numbers

13.348.1 - 13.348.8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/3212

Download Count

34

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Paper Authors

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Patrick Jarvis University of St. Thomas

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Patrick L. Jarvis received his J.D. in Law and Ph.D. in Computer Science both at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He has broad industry and consulting experience in the design and development of procedural and object-oriented systems, relational database systems, peer-to-peer and client-server systems, as well as the management of high technology employees. His law practice focuses on arbitration and mediation of high technology disputes. He joined the Computer and Information Sciences faculty of the University of St. Thomas in 1992. Recently he has taught object-oriented programming and design, database design, and data structures.

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Jeff Jalkio University of St. Thomas

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Jeff Jalkio received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and worked for thirteen years in industry in the fields of optical sensor design and process control. In 1984, he co-founded CyberOptics Corporation, where he led engineering efforts as Vice President of Research. In 1997 he returned to academia, joining the engineering faculty of the University of St. Thomas where he teaches courses in digital electronics, computing, electromagnetic fields, controls, and design.

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Marty Johnston University of St. Thomas

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Marty Johnston received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Riverside working in atomic physics. After serving as a Post-Doctorial Researcher at the University of Nebraska he came to the University of St. Thomas in 1995 to initiate an undergraduate research program in physics. When he is not in the laboratory, Marty can be found teaching classical physics, electricity and magnetism, theoretical mechanics or experimental methods.

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Christopher Greene University of St. Thomas

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Chris Greene received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and proceeded to a 25 year career in industry. At Honeywell, he did research on adaptive control and navigation systems before becoming Program Manager for several large aerospace programs. At Horton and Nexen, he was responsible for the development of industrial control products. In 2002, Dr. Greene joined the engineering department at the University of St. Thomas where he currently teaches classes in signals and systems, controls and digital design.

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Mari Heltne University of St. Thomas

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Mari Heltne received her Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona, working in the areas of expert systems and group technologies. After serving on the faculty and administration of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, for 24 years, she became the assistant dean of the Honors College at the University of Arizona. In 2002, she joined the faculty at the University of St. Thomas, where she now is chair of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, teaching courses in Systems Analysis and Design. Her research interest in group systems continues, and she has recently worked collaboratively with a faculty member in Journalism on ethical issues in web based technologies.

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

Customer Based Course Developments – Creating a First Year Programming Course for Engineers and Scientists

Abstract

One of the difficulties encountered in developing an introductory programming course is that it is often expected to serve many competing purposes. An introductory course might be intended to convey fundamental concepts in computing or fundamental computing constructs such as looping and conditional execution. The course might provide practical knowledge such as the syntax of a particular programming language or the use of a computational package commonly used in a specific application area. The course might provide an opportunity to develop cognitive abilities in incoming students such as general problem solving skills and good study habits. Finally, first year courses are often expected to include socialization aspects to improve student retention rates and aid in the transition from high school to college. Often different departments requiring such an introductory course may have differing needs, further reducing the likelihood of a successful outcome. With all these disparate objectives, it is not surprising that such introductory courses often fail to meet the expectations of the instructor, the students, or the departments requiring the course

In this paper, we discuss a process used to successfully develop such a course. We discuss how the need for the new course was originally identified as a result of program assessments and how the requirements for the course were developed cooperatively between computer science faculty and faculty in physics and engineering. We discuss how funding was obtained for course development and present results from the first semester of course offerings.

Background Ten years ago, our institution created a common introductory programming course for all students who needed programming as part of their major field. Prior to this time, several introductory programming courses were offered, aimed at students majoring in business, computer science, and the physical sciences. This diversity of introductory courses, each with its own unique focus and using a different programming language, led to difficulties when students continued on in advanced courses. The new common introductory course, taught using the Java language, sought to alleviate these difficulties by providing a common language and a common set of learning outcomes for all students. Unfortunately, by 2004, assessment data from follow- on courses in engineering indicated that the course was not meeting all of its intended objectives. This data was supported by student surveys on program objectives and anecdotal information from faculty in physics, computer science, mathematics, and engineering. Discussions between faculty in computer science, physics, and engineering over the following year led to the conclusions that (1) a new introductory programming course was needed to meet the needs of engineering and the physical sciences and that (2) traditional curriculum review and informal communication between departments was insufficient for a timely and successful redesign.

Requirements Analysis The first step in the design of a new course was to understand the requirements for this course and how the current course fell short of meeting these requirements. Through discussions with

Jarvis, P., & Jalkio, J., & Johnston, M., & Greene, C., & Heltne, M. (2008, June), Customer Based Course Development – Creating A First Year Programming Course For Engineers And Scientists Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3212

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015