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New Approach To Teaching An Introductory Computer Science Course

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovations in ECE Education III

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.903.1 - 14.903.14



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Paper Authors


Asad Azemi Pennsylvania State University

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Asad Azemi is an associate professor of Engineering at Penn State University. He has received his B.S. degree from UCLA in 1982, M.S. degree from Loyola Marymount University in 1985, and Ph.D. degree from University of Arkansas in 1991. His professional interests are in nonlinear stochastic systems, signal estimation, decision making under uncertainty, biocomputing, and use of computers and related technologies in undergraduate and graduate education to improve and enhance teaching and learning.

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Nannette D'Imperio Pennsylvania State University

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Nannette D’Imperio is an instructor of computer science at Penn State Brandywine. She earned a B.S. degree in Elementary Education with a Mathematics Concentration from West Chester University and a M.S. degree in Computer Education from Philadelphia University. She has professional experience in customer service, departmental supervision, application support, and technical analysis. Her research interests lie in the use of programming languages, web-based learning and its applications.

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

New Approach to Teaching an Introductory Computer Science Course


In this work, we present a new teaching approach that we have implemented in our introductory computer science programming course. The methodology consists of team teaching, a hybrid delivery system, recorded lecture retrieval capability, readiness assessment activities, objective assessment of student progress, and cooperative learning through team work. The team teaching approach consists of two faculty members being present and actively involved in lecture delivery and classroom activities, which take place in a computer laboratory setting. The hybrid delivery system consists of using Centra, a real-time communication, collaboration and learning software environment, for lecture delivery, recording, and active student participation. The recorded lectures are available to students for downloading and viewing at any time using any computer. The readiness assessment activities are incorporated to enhance student preparation for classroom lectures and are assigned on a weekly basis. The goal of the objective assessment part is to provide individual feedback to each student regarding mastery of ongoing course objectives through collective evaluations of quizzes and homework submissions. This process is repeated on a monthly basis during the semester. Cooperative learning is accomplished by forming student teams who work together on homework assignments and classroom activities. Details of this work, including its advantages, disadvantages, and student feedback, will be included in the paper.


The usual approach to teaching a computer programming course is to have a classroom lecture component and a supervised laboratory module, where students write simple programs reflective of the subjects that they have learned during the lectures. For smaller class sizes, an alternative approach, which consists of conducting the entire course in a laboratory setting, has also been implemented. An improvement to this approach involves making the lectures more interactive, transforming them using a multimedia package, and conducting class sessions in a "technology- ready classroom" 1. This requires a larger investment, and more time and money, on the parts of the institutions and instructors. Justification for this type of approach is apparent when we consider the basic problems of teaching an introductory computer programming course, which include the following. (i) Although the incoming students have considerably more experience with computers than their predecessors did, their experiences for the most part are limited to those of an "end user," and not a "developer." Therefore, the concept of programming is foreign to many of them. (ii) It is well understood that a programming language cannot be learned by just reading a textbook or listening to class lectures. One needs to read the textbook, attend lectures, and more importantly, practice the subject matter by writing programs. This is the justification

Azemi, A., & D'Imperio, N. (2009, June), New Approach To Teaching An Introductory Computer Science Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5730

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