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Incorporating a Teach for Mastery System in a Computer Science Course

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Curricular Innovations in Computing -2

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer Engineering Division (ECE)

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Paper Authors


Lea Wittie Bucknell University

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Lea Wittie is an Associate Professor in the department of Computer Science in the Engineering College at Bucknell University.

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Teaching for Mastery is the idea that students should progress through material when they have conquered the previous material it depends on and each student may progress at their own pace. The paper documents the process and results of incorporating a teach for mastery system into a Computer Science Programming Language Design course. The course is aimed at junior and senior undergraduate students and its goal is to introduce them to the four main language families and to show them how to teach themselves a programming language. This teach for mastery system caused both student learning and student satisfaction to improve in a course that was already well received before these changes. Other benefits of this system include a marked decrease in the amount of time spent grading and a straightforward way to identify which subjects need to be re-thought and which are being learned to the intended depth. The system does come with an increase in the amount of contact time spent with students which is both a positive in that you develop a closer relationship with the students and a negative in that it is a large amount of contact time.

Contributions include the structural changes and teaching artifacts needed to implement teaching for mastery in a course. The structural changes include flipping the classroom and replacing traditional sit-down exams with short one-topic take-when-ready exams. The teaching artifacts produced include a concept map. Students leave the course with a clear list of which topics they mastered and which they are still working on. This model still permits room for traditional laboratory and project components.

Wittie, L. (2023, June), Incorporating a Teach for Mastery System in a Computer Science Course Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43624

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