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Promoting Active Learning In Teaching The Organization Of Programming Languages Course

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Conference

2006 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Issues in Computer Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

9

Page Numbers

11.1048.1 - 11.1048.9

DOI

10.18260/1-2--1235

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/1235

Download Count

108

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Paper Authors

biography

Jun Luo Ohio Northern University

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Jun Luo is currently an assistant professor in the Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department at Ohio Northern University. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Beijing University of Technology, Tsinghua University, and University of Florida in 1994, 1997, and 2002, respectively. His teaching interests are in data structures and algorithms, databases, compilers, and organization of programming languages.

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biography

Robert Hovis Ohio Northern University

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Robert A. Hovis has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Ohio State University and has been a professor of mathematics and computer science for more than 30 years.

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

Promoting Active Learning in Teaching the Organization of Programming Languages Course

Abstract

Active learning has been shown to be one of the most efficient and effective teaching methodologies by numerous papers and articles. At Ohio Northern University (ONU), the course, Organization of Programming Languages (OPL), is offered to senior students. It is a required course for computer science majors. Two issues arise during the teaching of the course. First, in class, students are reluctant to listen to concepts that they have already learned in prerequisite courses. This happens even though the concepts are now addressed from the angle of the design issues instead of the angle of pure program writing. Second, students are not willing to learn special features that exist in the programming languages that they are not familiar with. To resolve these issues, active learning is introduced into the OPL course. In this paper, we will discuss in detail the implementations of the course and will give an assessment of the implementation.

1. Introduction

Active learning is a process by which students must actively be involved in reading, writing, discussion and problem solving. It has been shown to be one of the most efficient and effective teaching methodologies by numerous papers and articles 2, 6, 8, 9. Active learning has been widely used in classrooms for effective teaching 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10. At the university, OPL is a core, required course in the Computer Science curriculum. It is designed to theoretically investigate programming language constructs and to illustrate the implementations of the constructs in a variety of programming languages. Generally speaking, OPL can be taught either horizontally or vertically. In the horizontal strategy the instructor first discusses the constructs in theory and then demonstrates the concrete implementations in real programming languages. In the vertical strategy the instructor teaches a particular unfamiliar programming language in class and uses the features of the language to explain programming language concepts. Here at ONU, by the time students take OPL, they have already learned several current programming languages from prerequisite courses. Two issues arise during the teaching of the course. First, students are reluctant to listen to concepts that they have already been taught. They do not like repetition, even though the concepts are now addressed from the angle of the design issues instead of the angle of pure program writing. Secondly, students are not motivated to learn special features that exist in the programming languages they do not know. They ask why they must learn a feature of a language that they will likely not use in the future. The students claim that it is difficult for them to understand the features and it is easy for them to forget the meaning of the features because they do not know the language. To resolve these issues, we have incorporated active learning into the OPL lectures. The class is conducted using two threads: 1) the instructor discusses constructs of languages using the horizontal strategy; and 2) all students are required to independently study a language that they are not familiar with and write a paper on that language during the quarter. The students are also required to actively participate in class discussions, using the knowledge they learned through their independent study. The feedback from the

Luo, J., & Hovis, R. (2006, June), Promoting Active Learning In Teaching The Organization Of Programming Languages Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1235

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