July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
This paper analyzes the impact of active classroom learning on student performance in an introductory computing course. This course is a freshman level, foundational course in the Computer Engineering track in our engineering program. Student performance and overall experience in this course can influence their perception of the major, and therefore affect retention rates. A significant number of our freshman students enter our program with some computer programming experience through high school level courses in Java programming. Evidence gathered through a survey conducted at the start of the semester indicated that more than 50% of our incoming students have either completed AP Computer Science A or AP Computer Science Principles or both, about 20% have taken another computer programming course or learned programming through high school club activities, and about 20% of our students have no experience whatsoever. While this freshman level course does not require any prior knowledge of programming basics, students having some background are at an advantage due to their familiarity with the process of algorithmic thinking, and translation of an algorithm to a computer program. Many different instructional innovations have been implemented in science and engineering classrooms as a method of engaging students and improving learning outcomes. Active teaching is a method that has been implemented in a number of science and engineering courses taught in numerous universities [1-3]. While the results of these experiments indicate that there is a positive change in student engagement and learning in classrooms where active learning is the primary method of instruction, there is no data indicating the effectiveness of this pedagogical technique in an online classroom. One of the authors of this paper was the instructor of record for two sections of this course. One section (control section) was primarily taught using the traditional lecture format, and the second section (treatment section) was taught using a more active learning approach. Both sections were taught online with class meetings held twice weekly over Zoom. The predominant active learning approach used was a cooperative learning approach where students worked together in groups during class time. Students in both sections of the course had access to the same course materials and took the same course assessments. Measuring the effectiveness of an instructional technique is, in general, problematic, since the technique can have different levels of impact on different course objectives. For that reason, we have considered a broad range of student learning outcomes such as knowledge of foundational concepts in computing, basic logic blocks used in digital circuits, computer microarchitecture, and low-level or assembly programming. Students in both sections had access to Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions where they had further exposure to active learning strategies. In this study we investigate the impact of this active learning experience (both in lecture for the treatment section, and the Supplemental Instruction section) on student performance in all aspects of the course such as weekly quizzes, programming assignments, and overall course GPA. Preliminary analysis of student performance in weekly quizzes indicates that there is a slight improvement in the mean quiz score for the treatment section. Specifically, the students in the treatment section with no prior experience in programming show a 3.5% to 13.3% improvement in their most recent quiz grades compared with their peers in the control section. The data analysis in our final paper will include a statistical analysis to find any significant correlations between the type of instruction and student performance. We can use these results to find what impact the type of instruction has on specific student populations, including students with minimal to no experience in computer programming. References: 1. Prince, M., Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research, Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), July 2004, pp. 223-231. 2. Mazur, E. 1996. Peer Interaction, A User’s Manual. Prentice Hall. 3. Ruhl, K., Hughes, C., Schloss, P., Using the Pause Procedure to enhance lecture recall, Teacher Education and Special Education, Vol. 10, 1987, pp. 14-18.
Telang, N. K., & Abraham, N., & Seelan, M., & Annaluru, R. S. (2021, July), Traditional Lecture Format vs. Active Teaching Format in an Online Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://strategy.asee.org/37925
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