June 28, 1998
June 28, 1998
July 1, 1998
3.528.1 - 3.528.5
Teaching an Integrated First-Year Computing Curriculum: ‡ Lessons Learned
D. Cordes, A. Parrish, B. Dixon, R. Pimmel, J. Jackson, R. Borie University of Alabama
Abstract: This paper describes an integrated first year curriculum in computing for Computer Science and Computer Engineering students at the University of Alabama. The curriculum is built around the basic thrusts of the Foundation Coalition, and provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the study of computing for both majors.
Introduction The University of Alabama is one of seven schools (Arizona State University, Maricopa Community College District, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University – Kingsville, Texas Woman’s University, and the University of Alabama) that are participating in the Foundation Coalition (FC), an NSF- sponsored undergraduate engineering education reform initiative. As part of this program, the College of Engineering has developed a new curriculum for freshman engineering. Using the FC’s four basic thrusts (curriculum integration, active learning and teaming, technology-enabled education, and continuous assessment and evaluation), the College has put into place an entirely new freshman experience. Initial assessment results indicate that this curriculum has significantly higher retention rates than our traditional first-year program.
However, the revised curriculum is designed for traditional engineering majors. Students interested in either computer engineering or computer science were not seen (originally) as part of this curriculum’s target audience. It was felt that students interested in the discipline of computing should instead focus on mastering fundamental computer literacy during their freshman year. This includes competence in programming, an idea of the internal operations of the machine (including data representation), and understanding of the various hardware components associated with a machine, and an appreciation for the fundamental concepts of discrete mathematics that provide a foundation for computing.
Nevertheless, as stated previously, the merits of a FC-based freshman experience are significant. Given this, the Department of Computer Science (CS) and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) requested (and received) funding from NSF to develop an integrated freshman year in computing.
Institutional Overview The University of Alabama has approximately 400 undergraduates enrolled in either Computer Science or Computer Engineering, evenly split between the two majors. The ‡ This work supported in part by NSF grants DUE-9652785 and EEC-9221460
Pimmel, R., & Borie, R., & Jackson, J., & Cordes, D., & Dixon, B., & Parrish, A. (1998, June), Teaching An Integrated First Year Computing Curriculum: Lessons Learned Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. https://peer.asee.org/7449
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1998 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015