June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1280.1 - 26.1280.29
Providing Authentic Experiences in the First Year: Designing Educational Software for use in the Dominican RepublicThe introductory programming sequence taken by both computer engineering and computerscience majors in their first year at a medium-sized, private institution in the Midwest involvesusing C++ in the first semester for learning programming fundamentals, and then switching overto Java in the second semester to provide early exposure to event-driven programming andgraphical user interface development. Given the existence of studies that claim the lack of amotivating learning environment is a primary reason for student attrition, it is incumbent uponthe engineering education community to design experiences that help to both engage studentsand to provide a welcoming atmosphere to their chosen major. For three years prior to thisresearch, the introductory programming sequence culminated in a term project where studentteams would design educational games to address instructor-selected state educational standards.While these students at least had an engaging, legitimate scenario for their project development,there was no client involvement to help guide their efforts.One proven methodology to engage students is service learning, where classroom instruction iscombined with meaningful community service. In this way, instructors can provide authenticexperiences featuring problems involving real-world clients. For two years prior to this research,teams of students and faculty from the aforementioned institution have engaged in servicelearning by travelling to the Dominican Republic to run STEM-related educational workshopsfor groups of resident K-12 educators. However, while these students were capable of developinglesson plans for such workshops, they lacked the ability to create software applications that couldenhance the overall content through supplemental material.A collaborative effort between these two student groups was implemented in spring 2014, whereeducation students would have their lesson plans augmented by a team of introductoryprogramming students designing a web-based Java application. The hypothesis being explored inthis proposed manuscript is that, through this client-based collaboration, the programmingstudents would gain an authentic design experience that would provide at least a subset of thebenefits commonly associated with service learning activities.The design process started by presenting the education students’ lesson plans to the programmingteams; each team ranked their interest and plans were then assigned to best accommodate eachgroup. Implementation proposals were submitted, which were collectively vetted by theeducation students through means of a rubric. After any necessary revisions, the programmingteams delivered a web-based Java application, an elevator pitch video, a written report, and anoral presentation. For quantitative assessment, pre- and post-activity surveys developed forassessing service learning experiences were used to perform paired t-tests, and end-of-termcourse surveys were used to gauge differences between the current and previous cohorts.Qualitative assessment was performed through the use of open-ended questions in both the post-activity and end-of-term surveys. The results of the assessment were generally positive andinspired possible improvements for implementation in the following year. The manuscript willprovide conclusions drawn from these results and report on the future directions that thisresearch effort is taking to further improve this educational experience for the first-year students.
Estell, J. K., & Reeping, D. (2015, June), Providing Authentic Experiences in the First Year: Designing Educational Software in Support of Service Learning Activities Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24617
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