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Developing Strategies to Improve Student Engagement, Learning and Enjoyment of Introductory Computer Science Courses

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Proceedings of the 2020 ASEE PSW Section Conference, canceled


Davis, California

Publication Date

April 30, 2020

Start Date

April 30, 2020

End Date

October 10, 2020

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Paper Authors


Heather Marriott Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott

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Over 20 years of software engineering and web development experience, including 12 years at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University working on a specialized grant-based research project and teaching computer science courses. I am an Apple App Developer with several published apps. My research interests include active learning in classrooms and app development.

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Abstract - Introductory computer science courses have traditionally been taught using a lecture-based style, and this is perpetuated by the computer science community continuing to teach in the style in which they were taught. While educational research has proven the effectiveness of active learning in the classroom, many computer science professors lecturing find it difficult in incorporate these techniques into their classrooms. Today’s generation of students get bored quickly with the traditional lecture style and are accustomed to mobile devices and on demand entertainment. A more modern approach to teaching is needed to effectively teach and retain the next generation of computer programmers. Techniques such as gamification, pair programming, and hands-on activities can all be used to add variety to the classroom and keep student interest high. This paper examines techniques that can be used in any introductory computer science class to vary the format of the class and increase active participation while ensuring more effective learning. My findings show that both student performance and enjoyment increased as more active learning techniques were incorporated and variety was added to the courses. To measure the efficacy of the techniques proposed in this paper, a side by side comparison was conducted between students who had experienced the active learning classroom versus students covering the same course content with a lecture-based style. Students from the active learning classrooms achieved A’s in their subsequent computer science course 1.5-2.5 times more often than students from the traditional lecture-based classroom.

Marriott, H. (2020, April), Developing Strategies to Improve Student Engagement, Learning and Enjoyment of Introductory Computer Science Courses Paper presented at Proceedings of the 2020 ASEE PSW Section Conference, canceled, Davis, California.

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