Asee peer logo

Teaching Structured Programming Using Lego Programmable Bricks

Download Paper |

Conference

2007 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Mobile Robotics in Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

12.1370.1 - 12.1370.10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/2160

Download Count

54

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Eric Wang University of Nevada-Reno

visit author page

ERIC L. WANG is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Wang has won numerous awards including the Tibbitts Distinguished Teaching Award, UNR's most prestigious teaching award. In addition to his pedagogical activities, Dr. Wang conducts research on sports equipment, biomechanics, robotics, and intelligent materials.

visit author page

biography

Jeffrey LaCombe University of Nevada-Reno

visit author page

JEFFREY C. LACOMBE is an Assistant Professor of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition to his education-oriented research activities, Dr. LaCombe’s research lies in the areas of kinetic processes in materials (such as diffusion and solidification), nanoscale manufacturing methods, and remotely operated aerospace & satellite systems.

visit author page

biography

Ann-Marie Vollstedt University of Nevada-Reno

visit author page

ANN-MARIE VOLLSTEDT is a doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. Ms. Vollstedt has MS degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Secondary Science Education. Her dissertation focuses on methods to increase the cognitive development of engineering students.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Teaching Structured Programming Using LEGO Programmable Bricks

Abstract For the first time in nearly a decade, the LEGO programmable brick has undergone a major hardware revision. The LEGO programmable brick has been adopted for a variety of uses in primary, secondary, and higher education. With the introduction of the new hardware, there appears to be a growing interest in using the programmable brick for teaching computer programming to college students. The goal of this project was to develop a set of instructional workshops, online tutorials, and accompanying project-based learning exercises that, combined, teach the basics of structured computer programming.

Traditionally, structured computer programming is taught in an instructor-centric manner using a combination of lectures and programming assignments. The use of the programmable brick facilitates the use of student-centric active/project-based teaching methods. The instructional model described in this paper includes alternating weeks of workshops (i.e. interrupted lectures) and projects, supplemented with online video tutorials for asynchronous learning. The instructional materials include ROBOLAB, which is a graphical programming language, and the programmable LEGO brick.

A series of workshops and assignments have been developed and refined over the past several years and spans both the old and new hardware versions. A series of online tutorials were developed to explain each programming concept and an online learning module, complete with self-study quizzes, was developed to help students transfer the skills learned in the graphical programming environment to the traditional text-based format, such as that commonly used in C programming.

Concept inventories were used to assess student learning and a statistical analysis of student use was performed to assess the utility of each of the online video tutorials. Finally, a control-group study investigated the difference in student learning between exclusive use of an online learning module compared with learning experiences supplemented by in-class instruction. The concept inventory for computer programming was developed and implemented for the first time during the spring 2006 semester in order to assess student learning. The new hardware will be introduced for the first time in the spring 2007 semester. The concept inventories included both ROBOLAB (graphical) and pseudo-code (text-based) questions. The pseudo-code component was deemed important in order to quantify the student’s ability to transfer knowledge between domains. The key concepts included in the inventory were: goto’s, conditionals, loops, nested structures, variables, functions/arguments, and subroutines/subprograms.

1. Background

There is a vast history of using LEGO® bricks in education. Projects that use the RCX programmable brick have included a wide variety of projects and courses ranging from robot competitions1-3 to laboratory experiments4-10 to project based learning11-17. There have also been a few recent publications dealing specifically with computer programming18-20, which is the focus of the study described herein. By definition, the RCX requires programming and almost all

Wang, E., & LaCombe, J., & Vollstedt, A. (2007, June), Teaching Structured Programming Using Lego Programmable Bricks Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2160

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: © 2007 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