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TITLE: Rethinking the Gateway Computing Curriculum Across Engineering Disciplines

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Monday Cornucopia (Classroom Innovations)

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

19

DOI

10.18260/1-2--33441

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33441

Download Count

141

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Paper Authors

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Michael Joseph Reese Jr. Johns Hopkins University

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Michael Reese is the Associate Dean & Director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Resources. Dr. Reese previously worked as an Educational Technologist at Caliber Learning and Booz-Allen and Hamilton. He also consulted with the University of Maryland School of Nursing on the launch of their first online degree program. He earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Johns Hopkins. His dissertation modeled how educational innovations diffused in higher education. He also earned an M.Ed. in educational technology from the University of Virginia and a B.S. in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech, where he was named the Paul E. Torgersen Leadership Scholar.

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Michael L. Falk Johns Hopkins University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8383-4259

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Michael Falk is Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education and a Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering where he has served on the faculty since 2008 with secondary appointments in Mechanical Engineering and in Physics and Astronomy. He holds a B.A. in Physics (1990) and a M.S.E. in Computer Science (1991) from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Physics (1998) from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has received several awards for his educational accomplishments, and in 2018 received the Materials Research Society's Impact Award for his work on broadening participation in STEM and computing education. His education research focuses on integrating computation into the undergraduate core curriculum. Falk also served as the lead investigator for STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES) an NSF funded Community Enterprise for STEM Learning partnership between JHU and Baltimore City Schools.

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Joanne F. Selinski Johns Hopkins University

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Joanne Selinski is an Associate Teaching Professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Computer Science Department at Johns Hopkins University. She has MSE and PhD degrees in Computer Science from JHU, along with a BS in Mathematics from Chestnut Hill College. Her primary research interests are computer science education.

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Sara Miner More Johns Hopkins University

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Ali Darvish Johns Hopkins University

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Ivan Sekyonda Johns Hopkins University

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Amy Brusini Johns Hopkins University

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Alejandra J. Magana Purdue University-Main Campus, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6117-7502

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Alejandra Magana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Technology and an affiliated faculty at the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a B.E. in Information Systems, a M.S. in Technology, both from Tec de Monterrey; and a M.S. in Educational Technology and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Her research is focused on identifying how model-based cognition in STEM can be better supported by means of expert technological and computing tools such as cyber-physical systems,visualizations and modeling and simulation tools.

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Ahmed Ibrahim Johns Hopkins University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3324-5691

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Ahmed Ibrahim is the Senior Education Research Consultant at the Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Resources. Dr. Ibrahim leads the initiatives of scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) at both the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering. Dr. Ibrahim earned a PhD in educational psychology (learning sciences) from McGill University and completed his postdoctoral training in developmental psychology at the University of California at Riverside (UCR). He earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Cairo University, and a MSc. in computer engineering from New York University (NYU) before working in the engineering field for several years. Dr. Ibrahim’s research interests include: (1) practices of science, (2) engineering design, (3) computer-human interaction, (4) pedagogical training, (5) educational research, and (6) assessment and program evaluation. Dr. Ibrahim has a number of publications in peer-reviewed journals such as the International Journal of Science Education (IJSE) and the International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education (IJSME). Dr. Ibrahim teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in research methods, assessment and evaluation, statistics, and proposal writing.

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Nathan Graham Johns Hopkins University

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Nathan Graham is the Director of the Center for Digital and Media Initiatives at the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He is also a PhD candidate at Rutgers University.

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Paul Huckett Johns Hopkins University

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Abstract

Motivation

This evidence-based practice paper will analyze a redesign of the foundational computing curriculum that most freshmen in an engineering school will complete. Engineering curricula across all disciplines now require the ability to deploy computing within engineering practice, to develop new computational tools, and to leverage computational analysis as a means of advancing discovery and deepening fundamental understanding. This trend has led to a significant increase in the number of students taking computing courses, not just in Computer Science (CS) but in other departments as well. Traditionally students of various disciplines have been introduced to computing through courses taught within the discipline of CS. Some engineering departments believe it is best to introduce their students to computing within a disciplinary context, and therefore, have developed their own introductory computing courses. The concern with this proliferation of computing courses is that curricula across departments are not often aligned, which may require students to take multiple introductory computing courses if they switch majors. In addition, these courses are often taught using strategies that do not represent pedagogical best practices.

Background

A large private university addressed this problem of poor alignment by conducting a curriculum mapping exercise to standardize learning objectives and assessment strategies across foundational computing courses that span multiple programming languages that are usually taken during the first-year of an engineering curriculum. A secondary goal was to integrate more active-learning strategies into these courses. A comparative analysis of the change in teaching approaches between the previously taught and redesigned courses is the focus of the proposed paper.

Methods

The proposed paper will identify differences in student learning and perspectives between the traditional Introductory Programming in JAVA course and a redesigned version titled, Gateway Computing: JAVA. The traditional and new courses are both currently taught in the Fall 2018 semester. This provides an opportunity to compare student perspectives and learning in highly aligned courses taught with different pedagogical strategies.

The Introductory Programming in JAVA course uses a traditional lecture approach with project-based assignments students complete outside of class meetings. The new Gateway Computing: JAVA course uses the flipped method. Students watch online lectures recorded by faculty from multiple departments and complete readings and activities available in an interactive textbook. Students complete programming exercises during class meetings to apply the content learned at home under the guidance of an instructor and course assistants. To maximize time for active-learning exercises in class, the faculty evaluate student learning through self-paced homework assignments outside of class meetings as well as proctored assessments that students self-schedule to take at the campus computer lab each week.

Gateway Computing: JAVA was the first course to adopt the new curriculum reviewed by a team of faculty. The flipped course approach reflects evidence-based teaching strategies. For example, the online quizzes and problems assigned through the interactive textbook were designed to prime students for in-class activities. The faculty schedule the lectures and prep-work to distribute student effort over time to discourage students from “cramming” content during short periods. Finally, giving students the option to re-take assessments on which they have scored poorly encourages them to work to build proficiency in course concepts, even if these concepts were initially difficult to grasp.

Anticipated Results

The Second CS1 Assessment Concept Inventory will be used to compare student learning between the two courses. It is hypothesized that students in the new Gateway Computing course will learn more because of the greater use of active-learning strategies. Students will also complete a survey measuring their cognitive engagement to compare differences in students’ professional orientation toward the usefulness and value of computing in their future course work and careers. This is a critical perspective to understand as freshmen are just beginning to develop their professional identity as engineers. Finally, focus groups with students in each course will investigate students’ general perspectives on these courses including how can they be improved and what course components they believe best support their learning. The data collection will be completed in December 2018 with final results shared in the first draft of the paper.

Reese, M. J., & Falk, M. L., & Selinski, J. F., & More, S. M., & Darvish, A., & Sekyonda, I., & Brusini, A., & Magana, A. J., & Ibrahim, A., & Graham, N., & Huckett, P. (2019, June), TITLE: Rethinking the Gateway Computing Curriculum Across Engineering Disciplines Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33441

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: © 2019 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