June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Educational Research and Methods
26.1589.1 - 26.1589.14
Towards a Framework for Assessing Computational Competencies for Engineering Undergraduate StudentsAssessment is a central component of educational reform. Valid assessments are key tomeasuring student learning and further establish a relationship between instruction and learningoutcomes. Despite the central role that computation plays in engineering there remains anabsence of valid assessments to measure computational competencies for engineers. The focus ofthis paper is to describe our progress towards characterizing students’ skills and behaviorsassociated with computational competency as they solve engineering problems. This work willcontribute to our understanding about computational problem solving uniquely characterized inthe context of engineering.The Collaborative Process to Align Computing Education with Engineering Workforce Needs(CPACE) team developed a collaborative process between industry, business and academia toidentify the computational competencies and skills that are essential for a globally competitiveengineering workforce. These findings were translated to computer science (CS) concepts to beused in curricular implementation (CPACE computational competencies). Our goal was to infusecomputational problem solving competencies throughout the engineering undergraduatecurricula. To achieve this goal we introduced problems that provided a context where studentswere required to apply computational concepts for their solution.Our data collection involved student surveys and student artifacts including final project reportsand homework assignments. We designed rubrics based on the CPACE computationalcompetencies and used them to compare self-reported survey data regarding students’computational abilities and actual performance in classroom assignments. A major challengeemerged during initial analysis of student artifacts, we discovered that employing the artifactsalone made it difficult to recognize students’ computational thinking processes [let alonemeasure computational competencies] as they solved engineering problems. To complement ouranalysis and understand the complexity of the students’ computational thinking processes weconducted semi-structured interviews; the objective was to focus on the role of computationduring the problem solving process.The interviews focused on asking students to describe/recount their thought processes as theysolved the engineering problem. The addition of interview data and qualitative analysis to the existing data (surveys, student artifacts, rubrics) allowed for triangulation and in depth validity checks across data sources. The CPACE team has identified critical steps that allow us to make clear connections between students’ computational thinking processesCPACE Qualitative Process. and CPACE computationalThe boxes represent distinct competencies. The overall processsteps in the process; the arrows of Interview Coding andpoint to the connections between Alignment to CPACEsteps.Computational Competencies is summarized in the figure above.This paper focuses on the analyses of the students’ interviews and our efforts to define atriangulation process [across data sources] that will allow us to inform the core researchquestion: What are the features that broadly characterize the knowledge, skills and behaviorsassociated with computational competencies for undergraduate engineering students?
Vergara, C. E., & Cavanaugh, M., & Sivakumar, S. N., & Briedis, D., & Dionise, T. D., & Esfahanian, A., & Sticklen, J., & Urban-Lurain, M. (2015, June), Towards a Framework for Assessing Computational Competencies for Engineering Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24925
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