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Improving Pass Rates by Switching from a Passive to an Active Learning Textbook in CS0

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Computers in Education Division Technical Session 6: Computer Science Freshman Courses

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

16

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34792

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34792

Download Count

101

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Paper Authors

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Dawn McKinney University of South Alabama

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Dawn McKinney, a Senior Instructor and Curriculum Coordinator for Computer Science at the University of South Alabama, has been conducting research on Teaching and Learning for over 23 years and has co-authored over 25 papers which have been presented at SISCSE, ASEE, FIE, XP/Agile Universe, International Conference on The First-Year Experience, Southeastern Learning Community Consortium, Council on Undergraduate Research National Conference, and the South Alabama Conference on Teaching and Learning. As a leader in the university's Team-Based Learning effort, McKinney has been awarded funds for support, including travel, for the past seven years. She taught courses in China in 2013 and was awarded the highest award for teaching at the University of South Alabama in 2014. During the last three years, McKinney has participated in the Scholarship on Teaching and Learning program supported by the University of South Alabama and has been awarded funds to use for travel. During this time McKinney has collaborated with computer science faculty at several institutions and has co-authored papers submitted to both SIGCSE and ASEE.

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Alex Daniel Edgcomb Zybooks

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Alex Edgcomb is a Senior Software Engineer at zyBooks.com, a startup spun-off from UC Riverside that develops interactive, web-native learning materials for STEM courses. Alex is also a research specialist at UC Riverside, studying the efficacy of web-native content and digital education.

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Roman Lysecky University of Arizona

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Roman Lysecky is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Riverside in 2005. His research focuses on embedded systems with emphasis on medical device security, automated threat detection and mitigation, runtime adaptable systems, performance and energy optimization, and non-intrusive observation methods. He is an author on more than 100 research publications in top journals and conferences. He received the Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award from the European Design and Automation Association (EDAA) in 2006, a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation in 2009, and seven Best Paper Awards. He is an inventor on one US patent. He has authored eight textbooks on topics including C, C++, Java, Data Structures, VHDL, and Verilog, and he has contributed to several more. His recent textbooks with zyBooks utilize a web-native, active-learning approach that has shown measurable increases in student learning and course grades. He has also received multiple awards for Excellence at the Student Interface from the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona.

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Frank Vahid University of California, Riverside

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Frank Vahid is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Univ. of California, Riverside. His research interests include embedded systems design, and engineering education. He is a co-founder of zyBooks.com.

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Abstract

Undergraduate degree programs in computer science have struggled with student retention and outcomes; some solutions focus on improving introductory courses, such as CS0. This paper reports on one such approach: Switching from a passive to active learning textbook, which uses animations, learning questions, and simulators, along with text and figures. The Fall 2017 offering had 73 students and used a passive textbook and a standalone flowchart simulator. The Fall 2018 offering had 76 students and used an active learning textbook, including integrated auto-graded homeworks and integrated flowchart simulator. The primary change in the course was to the textbook; the courses had the same experienced instructor; similar quizzes, exams, and homeworks; and similarly-prepared students based on ACT scores and previous programming experience. Various metrics were measured; most crucially, the pass rate significantly increased (p-value = 0.04) from 78% (57 of 73 students) in Fall 2017 to 91% (69 of 76 students) in Fall 2018. In Fall 2017, 10 of the 16 students that did not pass changed majors, whereas only 2 of the 7 did in Fall 2018. The course grades increased from 84 out of 100 points in Fall 2017 to 87 in Fall 2018; the largest categorical increase (p-value < 0.001) was homework from 71 out of 100 points in Fall 2017 to 88 in Fall 2018. Students were surveyed about the course; significant findings turned out to be that Fall 2018 students found the homework to be clearer but harder than Fall 2017 students.

McKinney, D., & Edgcomb, A. D., & Lysecky, R., & Vahid, F. (2020, June), Improving Pass Rates by Switching from a Passive to an Active Learning Textbook in CS0 Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34792

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