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Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in Computer Science and Software Engineering

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Pedagogical Approaches for Software Engineering

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1069.1 - 25.1069.11



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Paper Authors


Clifton L. Kussmaul Muhlenberg College

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Clifton Kussmaul is Associate Professor of computer science at Muhlenberg College. Previously, he was Visiting Fulbright-Nehru Scholar at the University of Kerala, Chief Technology Officer for Elegance Technologies, Inc., Senior Member of Technical Staff with NeST Technologies, and Assistant Professor of C.S. at Moravian College. He has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Davis, M.S. and M.A. from Dartmouth College, and B.S. and B.A. from Swarthmore College. His professional interests and activities include education, entrepreneurship, software engineering, digital signal processing, cognitive neuroscience, and music.

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Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) for Computer Science & Software EngineeringTo improve student learning, enthusiasm, and retention, educators have developed a wide varietyof approaches to engage students, enhance learning, and emphasize attitudes and skills inaddition to knowledge. One such approach is Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning(POGIL), in which teams of learners (typically 3-5) work on scripted inquiry activities andinvestigations designed to help them construct their own knowledge. The teams follow processeswith specific roles, steps, and reports that help develop process skills and encourage individualresponsibility and meta-cognition. The instructor serves as a facilitator, not a lecturer. POGILhas been developed and validated over the last 15 years, primarily in chemistry. Studies havefound that POGIL significantly improves student performance, particularly for average andbelow-average students.POGIL has particular potential for education in computer science & software engineering (CS &SE). Software development is largely a team-based, problem-solving activity, and POGIL helpsstudents to develop important team process skills and to develop their problem-solving abilities.POGIL also encourages students to collaborate and learn from each other rather than focusing onan instructor. POGIL also presents some distinctive challenges for CS & SE. There are not manyactivities for CS & SE; thus, faculty need to invest significant time and effort developing them.CS & SE courses and curricula vary widely, and portions of the content change rapidly, makingit more difficult to adopt or adapt materials at other institutions.This paper describes an ongoing NSF funded project to develop POGIL activities for computingscience and software engineering. First, it reviews relevant background on effective learning andPOGIL, compares POGIL to other forms of active learning, and describes the potential ofPOGIL for CS & SE. Second, it describes a sample POGIL activity for SE, including thestructure and contents, student and facilitator actions during the activity, and how activities aredesigned. Third, it summarizes current progress and plans for the NSF TUES project. Finally, itdiscusses student reactions, lessons learned, and future directions.

Kussmaul, C. L. (2012, June), Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in Computer Science and Software Engineering Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21826

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