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Innovations in Software Engineering Education: An Experimental Study of Integrating Active Learning and Design-based Learning

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Conference

2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Novel Pedagogies 2

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

45

Page Numbers

23.758.1 - 23.758.45

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/19772

Download Count

64

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Paper Authors

biography

Liu Junhua Singapore University of Technology and Design

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Junhua is an undergraduate research technician of the International Design Centre (IDC) and pursuing a BE (Engineering Systems and Design) at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). He received a Diploma in IT from Singapore Polytechnic. Junhua was awarded the IT Youth of 2013 by the Singapore Computer Society.

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Yue Zhang Singapore University and Technology and Design

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Yue Zhang is currently an assistant professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design. Before joining SUTD in July 2012, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate in University of Cambridge, UK. Yue Zhang received his DPhil and MSc degrees from University of Oxford, UK, and his BEng degree from Tsinghua University, China. His research interests include natural language processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, while he has also been interested in pedagogy improvements in engineering education.

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Justin Ruths Singapore University of Technology and Design

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Justin Ruths received a B.S. degree from Rice University, an M.S. degree from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. degree in Systems Science and Mathematics from Washington University in Saint Louis. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design. His research interests are in the areas of computational optimal control theory and large-scale complex systems.

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Diana Moreno Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)

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Dr. Diana Moreno is a Posdoctoral Associate of the MIT-SUTD Graduate Fellows Program, her research focus is in the areas of innovation processes, ideation methods, design-by-analogy, product development, reliability, concurrent engineering, and design for six sigma.
Dr. Moreno completed her PhD studies in Engineering Sciences at Tecnológico de Monterrey co-advised with the University of Texas at Austin, she also holds two Master degrees: M.Sc. in Quality Systems and Productivity at Tecnológico de Monterrey; and M.Sc. in Technology and Management of Energy Companies, in a joint program of the Instituto Superior de la Energía (REPSOL YPF) with Universidad de Navarra’s Business School (IESE). She received her B.Sc in Industrial Engineering from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.

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Daniel D. Jensen U.S. Air Force Academy

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Dr. Dan Jensen is a Professor of Engineering Mechanics at the U.S. Air Force Academy where he has been since 1997. He received his B.S. (Mechanical Engineering), M.S. (Applied Mechanics) and Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering Science) from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has worked for Texas Instruments, Lockheed Martin, NASA, University of the Pacific, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and MSC Software Corp. His research includes design of Micro Air Vehicles, development of innovative design methodologies and enhancement of engineering education. Dr Jensen has authored approximately 100 papers and has been awarded over $3 million of research grants.

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Kristin L. Wood Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)

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Dr. Kristin L. Wood is currently a Professor, Head of Pillar, and co-Director of the International Design Center (IDC) at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Dr. Wood completed his
M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering (Division of Engineering and Applied Science) at the California Institute of Technology, where he was an AT&T Bell Laboratories Ph.D. Scholar. Dr. Wood
was formerly a Professor of Mechanical engineering at the University of Texas (1989-2011), where he established a computational and experimental
laboratory for research in engineering design and manufacturing. He was a National Science Foundation Young Investigator, the Cullen Trust for Higher Education Endowed Professor in Engineering and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

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Abstract

Innovations in Software Engineering Education: Integrating Active Learning and Design-based Learning AbstractOver the last two decades, significant advancements have been made in thedevelopment of active learning approaches in many fields of engineering. Theseefforts focus on transforming course content from passive, traditional classroomenvironments to modes where the students take a much more dynamic andparticipatory role. Similar advancements have been made in project-basedlearning (PBL) and design-based learning (DBL). In these cases, students learn inan application-based environment, typically in teams, and, in the extreme, directedby open-ended problems where no single right answer exists.While the literature reports a number of examples of active learning and design-based learning approaches within engineering, few investigations are reportedregarding their integration. This void especially exists in certain areas ofengineering, such as software engineering.In this paper, we consider a systematic investigation of combining active learningand design-based learning for the instruction of software engineering content. Theinvestigation entails an experiment based on two scenarios: a control group,focusing on the traditional approaches, and an experimental group, focusing onactive learning through peer to peer instruction and the integration of designproject modules. For the purposes of this study and educational needs of thestudents, the experimental environment is chosen to be an intermediate-level shortcourse on objective-oriented programming in Java. The control group follows atraditional learning approach, i.e., a water-flow model, where content is presentedin lectures, labs, readings, and homework assignments. The experimental group,on the other hand, learns content through pre-assigned readings, peer-peer activepresentations and discussions of course content, faculty-led follow-up discussionsof content at a peer level, connections of provocative and real-life examples tomotivate course content, and design-based problems integrated throughoutclassroom and out-of-class activities.Based on this general structure, the short course was offered to students from avariety of educational and experiential backgrounds. Students that volunteered forenrollment were brought together for a course orientation. As part of thisorientation, a pre-test on an objective-oriented concept inventory wasadministered, in addition to registration information focusing on the students’background. The students were then selected as participants in the control andexperimental groups, where they were evenly distributed according to educationallevel and skills in software programming.After selecting the control and experimental groups, the short course wasimplemented over a one-week period. The participant groups remained segregatedfor course content instruction and course exercises until the final day of the coursewhere the students presented results of a final designette project. Faculty membersteaching the short course were recruited to have similar expertise, enthusiasm, andcontent knowledge, independent of the control and experimental group structure.Upon completion of the final project, all students in the course completed a post-test on the object-oriented concept inventory, as well as a learning experience self-assessment. These assessment and evaluation instruments provide theexperimental data for the study, i.e., pre- and post-tests of the course content, aquestionnaire on the learning experience by both groups, and key demographicinformation. These data are analyzed statistically to measure the learningoutcomes of key concepts when comparing the control and experimental group.Self-assessment of learning styles and approaches are also analyzed across thesample sizes for both groups and with respect to the pre-knowledge anddemographics of the participants.Key findings from these analyses include: (1) the experimental group performssignificantly better on concept inventory questions focusing on applied, workingknowledge; (2) generally the experimental group performs better, with statisticalsignificance, across the entire concept inventory; (3) the experimental and controlgroups perform equally well on basic concept questions from the inventory; (4) interms of self assessment, the experimental group finds the learning experience tobe, on average, more engaging, inspiring, helpful, and relevant compared totraditional learning approaches; and (5) the design-based learning was noted as akey component for participant motivation and engagement throughout theexecution of the course content. These findings are significant as they represent anintegration of contemporary pedagogical approaches for engineering education.The implications for learning approaches in software engineering and, moregenerally, engineering education are: our exploration into active learningapproaches indicate new and promising alternatives for pedagogical approaches insoftware engineering; integration of active learning and design-based learning(DBL), based on our experimental evidence, suggests that a foundational approachof working on a specific design project accelerates and enables learning ofdifficult engineering content; and applying the particular active learning and DBLstrategy within our study has significant potential as a model for teachingfundamental software engineering concepts.

Junhua, L., & Zhang, Y., & Ruths, J., & Moreno, D., & Jensen, D. D., & Wood, K. L. (2013, June), Innovations in Software Engineering Education: An Experimental Study of Integrating Active Learning and Design-based Learning Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19772

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