Reconciling a Traditional Syllabus with an Inquiry-Based Introductory Course


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describes the design of an introductory programming course design as an entire inquiry-based course

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Reconciling a Traditional Syllabus with an Inquiry-Based Introductory Course

  1. 1. Reconciling a Traditional Syllabus with an Inquiry-Based Introductory Course Katrin Becker U of Calgary
  2. 2. Overview: <ul><li>IBL </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How does it work? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Challenges for 1 st year CS. </li></ul><ul><li>Making IBL work. </li></ul><ul><li>What we did. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A ‘typical’ class. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assessment – All about rubrics. </li></ul><ul><li>Choice – the Assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Costs – Benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>Improvements. </li></ul><ul><li>Is it Better?…. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Inquiry Based Learning - What is it? <ul><li>INQUIRY  EXPLORATION </li></ul><ul><li>Students drive content by asking questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Instructors do NOT control, they guide. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning is individualized for pace, depth, even content (up to a point). </li></ul><ul><li>Given (3), formal exams are largely inappropriate. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers must draw out and work with the pre-existing understandings that their students bring with them. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis is on developing meta-cognitive skills (higher order thinking) as opposed to simple fact retention. </li></ul><ul><li>Offers detailed feedback & critiques*(as opposed to right/wrong). </li></ul><ul><li>*NOT* efficient (?) </li></ul>
  4. 4. How Does it Work? <ul><li>Need not be “All or Nothing” </li></ul><ul><li>Many courses already have inquiry based components. </li></ul><ul><li>Course content is specified in terms goals and outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Not in terms of class time spent on a topic: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When finished, what will successful students be able to do? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will students demonstrate mastery of a topic? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Final grade is built using a measure of mastery of the individual components. </li></ul>
  5. 5. 1 st Year Challenge <ul><li>Great to have this freedom in a capstone course. </li></ul><ul><li>Different story if the course is core or serves as a pre-requisite for something else: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Then we have an obligation to meet certain criteria. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Also different story in the freshman and sophomore years – different expertise / experience. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Inquiry Based Learning – Making it Work <ul><li>Students must know the goals and outcomes in advance. </li></ul><ul><li>Instructor must be prepared to adapt to students needs, but do not make the goals into moving targets. </li></ul><ul><li>Instructor must be prepared to speak on any topic in the course at any time (even without slides) </li></ul><ul><li>Instructor must remain responsible for but not in control of the class. </li></ul><ul><li>Get to know the students </li></ul><ul><li>Trust them </li></ul><ul><li>Set deadlines but remain flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Be clear on what you want them to learn and why they should learn it. </li></ul>
  7. 7. What We Did <ul><li>Inquiry-Based Introduction to Computer Science </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Combined CS101 and CS102 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily programming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accepted only top 10% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prior experience *not* required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No / Few formal lectures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner Driven (within bounds) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. A ‘Typical’ Class <ul><li>Format: T-R 75 min. + 2 x 2 hr. labs </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Lecture’ in classroom w/o machines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Movie-time; Q & A; guest speakers; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Just-in-time” lectures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Labs in room w/ machine per person </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Q & A; unstructured work time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Watch program development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hands on help </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Assessment <ul><li>Goal: assess understanding & mastery rather than recall </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective rather than objective </li></ul><ul><li>Provides opportunities for reflection, revision. </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment is also used for learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Customized rather than mechanized. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Rubric: Units & Weighting <ul><li>Participation & Attendance   </li></ul><ul><li>Data Representation </li></ul><ul><li>Basic Hardware Function </li></ul><ul><li>Language Translation & Execution </li></ul><ul><li>Algorithms </li></ul><ul><li>Programming Concepts *** </li></ul><ul><li>Object-oriented Design </li></ul><ul><li>Recursion </li></ul><ul><li>Event-Driven Programming </li></ul><ul><li>Program Testing *** </li></ul><ul><li>*** Note additional requirements. </li></ul>20 5 5 8 10 20 16 3 3 10
  11. 11. A note on Participation & Attendance <ul><li>NOT designed as independent learning (probably not recommended for most freshmen anyway). </li></ul><ul><li>Components: </li></ul><ul><li>Attendance (lecture & lab: few; some; most) </li></ul><ul><li>Participation: In class </li></ul><ul><ul><li>actively contributes to discussion (including non-verbal communication and other contributions: obvious attention) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contributes artifacts (show-and-tell; www links; etc.) -OR- other form of contributions - helping other class-mates </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Groupwork </li></ul><ul><ul><li>communicates effectively with other group members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contributes to solution </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Critical Incident Questionnaire </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weekly (engaged, distanced, helpful, confusing, surprise) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meta – analysis of weekly CIQ’s </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Coursework: Overall Requirements <ul><li>Assignments: 6 Submissions Total </li></ul><ul><li>Assignments may be resubmitted as often as desired without penalty. </li></ul><ul><li>Any single assignment may be resubmitted to meet upgraded requirements (e.g.. An Introductory-level assignment may be re-submitted as an Intermediate level assignment as long as it meets the requirements.) </li></ul><ul><li>Additional Requirements: </li></ul><ul><li>2 X solitary work. </li></ul><ul><li>2 X group work. </li></ul><ul><li>2 X Intermediate. </li></ul><ul><li>1 X Wasabi. </li></ul><ul><li>2 X demo . Only one will be marked. * </li></ul><ul><li>2 X expo . Only one will be marked. </li></ul><ul><li>* One is for practice </li></ul>
  13. 13. Rubric: Sample Points Breakdown
  14. 14. Rubric: quick tour <ul><li>Choices are not intended to be completely discrete. </li></ul><ul><li>Like sliding scale. </li></ul><ul><li>Fever thermometer analogy - *not* additive </li></ul><ul><li>i.e. 2 X good does not = excellent </li></ul>[4] Meaningful identifier names [some single letter names are OK, such as i,j for indices]. Explanations of identifiers where appropriate. [ 3 ] Most names made sense. Explained – and most explanations are appropriate. [2] Some poor choices. Most identifiers explained where appropriate. [1] Meaningless or misleading names E.g. Choice of Variable Names What is excellent? What is above average? What is “good enough”? What would be an acceptable attempt? Describe what students must know / do to demonstrate mastery Exemplary (excellent = A) Exceeds (good = B) Meets (OK = C) Attempt (minimal pass) Main Objective / Topic, E.g. Documentation
  15. 15. Rubric: Sample Topic
  16. 16. Making a Rubric: <ul><li>Criterion Based Marking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not scaled or distributed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Top – Down Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Start with Whole Course </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Before: What do they already know & do? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>After: At the end of this course, what should students know and be capable of? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>As detailed as possible </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What constitutes acceptable evidence? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the relative importance of this component? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Match amount of work to relative importance </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Choice – The Assignments <ul><li>As many as possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Classify </li></ul><ul><li>You define for your curriculum </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beginner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>up to 1D arrays </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intermediate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>arrays to simple objects </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wasabi </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Inheritance (OO), or </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Large, complex problem </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. The Assignments: Mapping onto the rubric <ul><li>Have sample solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Helps classify </li></ul><ul><li>Indicates what criteria this meets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Maps solution onto objectives </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remember there are multiple ‘right’ answers </li></ul><ul><li>Let students tell *you* what theirs does </li></ul>
  19. 19. Benefits <ul><li>Students in control of their own learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>= greater personal investment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on deep rather than surface learning </li></ul><ul><li>Bulk of prep. done once (before term) </li></ul><ul><li>Greater flexibility </li></ul>
  20. 20. Costs - Requirements <ul><li>Time consuming – during term </li></ul><ul><li>Not suited to large classes </li></ul><ul><li>Instructor must know material thoroughly </li></ul><ul><li>Students must *want* to learn </li></ul>
  21. 21. Improvements <ul><li>DO NOT combine fast-track with inquiry-based format. </li></ul><ul><li>Deadlines </li></ul><ul><li>Checkpoints </li></ul><ul><li>More supplementary support: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tutorials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Allow mid stream transfer into regular course? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Thanks!