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Perceptions of Foundational Knowledge by CS students - WCCCE 2012
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Perceptions of Foundational Knowledge by CS students - WCCCE 2012

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    Perceptions of Foundational Knowledge by CS students - WCCCE 2012 Perceptions of Foundational Knowledge by CS students - WCCCE 2012 Presentation Transcript

    • Perceptions of Foundational Knowledge by CSStudentsKatharine Blanchard & Michael SoltysMcMaster UniversityMay 4, 2012Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Title - 1/30
    • At McMaster our enrollment is very good→ not easy to get in our program→ full capacity in 1st and 2nd yearBut . . .→ CS attrition rates as high as 30%We are in the faculty of engineering (PEng)There is a push to make CS more “relevant”→ replace theory with more programmingPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Intro - 2/30
    • Guzdial & Soloway: “Nintendo Generation” views CS as creatingmedia.Beaubouef & Mason: the problem of high attrition and the need ofmathKnuth: “CS = problem solving”Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Intro - 3/30
    • Each generation of students is different, shaped by:Family/cultural traditionHigh school experiencesEconomic factorsSocietal pressuresWorld headlinesPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Students - 4/30
    • Possible reasons for student attrition:Juggle school and a jobLimited time management skillsMisconceptions on entering the programPoor math skills & poor problem solving skillsPoorly designed CS1 lab coursesLack of practice / feedbackGrad student teachers. . .Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Students - 5/30
    • Time management skillsDavid Allen’s, Getting things doneStephen Covey’s, 7 HabitsPlus, working with a team, starting early, documenting, . . .Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Habits - 6/30
    • Diagnosis of high attrition:What we teach is often impractical→ computability, Turing machines, algorithms, . . .Students “know” they won’t find a job with what we teachStudents intensely dislike theorySolution:→ more Java programming→ more systems→ less theoryPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Diagnosis - 7/30
    • Problem is viewed as:The Nintendo generation is taught CS by a generation of facultythat views CS as applied mathematics.For Nintendo generation CS = Facebook, Warcraft, Internet, . . .For faculty CS = floating point arithmetic, . . .→ need to make curriculum au courant.Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Diagnosis - 8/30
    • Guzdial & Soloway:Fight the “Hello, World” approach to CSInstead: Xerox PARC “Dynabook”→ learn CS by creating media→ sound synthesis with “Squeak”Teach “old concepts” with “new media”Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Solutions - 9/30
    • We ask the question:is it true that our students are theory averse?We surveyed 100 students at McMaster and found that:75% are satisfied or very satisfied with learningtheoretical/foundational material65% agree or strongly agree that theoretical content is veryrelevant to their field of study(CS, SE, mechatronics, embedded systems)Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Our study - 10/30
    • Satisfaction by intended career pathFull study: http://goo.gl/56n9BPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Our study - 11/30
    • True we examined seniors; but . . .Reges, Back to basics in CS1 and CS2, SIGCSE 2006.Study from University of Washington, CS majors.New approach that emphasizes problem solving→ increased student satisfaction(other things: replaced “objects early” with “traditional proceduralapproach”)Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Our study - 12/30
    • The 3/4 satisfaction & approval of theory was admittedly asurprise.The 1/4 unhappy students:Teaching failure“Mercenary reasons” or just plain poor students“Legacy prejudice”“Customer mentality”Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Ideas - 13/30
    • The instructor can make the material more:InterestingRelevantMotivatedPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Ideas - 14/30
    • Interesting:An alphabet is a finite, non-empty set of distinct symbols, denotedusually by Σ.e.g., Σ = {0, 1} (binary alphabet)Σ = {a, b, c, . . . , z} (lower-case letters alphabet)A string, also called word, is a finite ordered sequence of symbolschosen from some alphabet.e.g., 010011101011|w| denotes the length of the string w.e.g., |010011101011| = 12The empty string, ε, |ε| = 0, is in any Σ by default.Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Interesting - 15/30
    • Since long ago “markings” have been used to store & processinformation. The following pictures are from the SmithsonianMuseum of Natural History, Washington D.C.Engraved ocher plaqueBlombos Cave, South Africa77,000–75,000 years oldIshango boneCongo, 25,000–20,000 years oldleg bone from a baboon; 3 rows oftally marks, to add or multiply (?)Reindeer antler with tally marksLa Madeleine, France17,000–11,500 years oldPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Interesting - 16/30
    • About 8,000 years ago, humans were using symbols to representwords and concepts. True forms of writing developed over the nextfew thousand years.Cylinder seals were rolledacross wet clay tablets toproduce raised designscylinder seal in lapis lazuli,Assyrian culture, Babylon,Iraq, 4,100–3,600 years agoCuneiform symbols stood forconcepts and later for sounds andsyllablescuneiform clay tablet, Chakma,Chalush, near Babylon, Iraq,4,000–2,600 years agoPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Interesting - 17/30
    • Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Interesting - 18/30
    • John von NeumannHungarian-American,1903–1957von Neumann machineManhattan projectPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Interesting - 19/30
    • Alan TuringEnglish, 1912–1954Bletchley Park, Britain’scodebreaking centreduring WWIIEnigma machinePerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Interesting - 20/30
    • Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Interesting - 21/30
    • Relevant:Bellman-Ford vs Dijkstra as routing algorithmsRIP - Routing Internet Protocol (RFC 2453)vsOSPF - Open Shortest Path First (RFC 2328)Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Relevant - 22/30
    • In 2010, 28,833 Terabytes of data were transmitted over theCANARIE Network, a 50% increase from the year before.That’s equivalent to:5,689,951 hours of CD quality audiothe images collected by 642 Hubble Telescopes20 times the annual residential Internet traffic in CanadaPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Relevant - 23/30
    • Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Relevant - 24/30
    • Virgin Islands — huge data hubPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Relevant - 25/30
    • Two functions of routing protocols:1. They compute the set of shortest paths.2. Respond to network failure & topology changes by continuallyupdating routing information.Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Relevant - 26/30
    • Example Of Distance-Vector UpdateDestination Distance RouteNet 1Net 2Net 4Net 17Net 24Net 30Net 420085622directdirectRouter LRouter MRouter JRouter QRouter JDestination DistanceNet 1Net 4Net 17Net 21Net 24Net 30Net 4223645103(a) (b)(a) is existing routing table(b) incoming update (marked items cause change)Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Relevant - 27/30
    • Motivation:Why prove correctness of algorithms?As far as the fundamental science is concerned, we still certainly donot know how to prove programs correct. We need a lot of steadyprogress in this area, which one can foresee, and a lot ofbreakthroughs where people suddenly find there’s a simple way todo something that everybody hitherto has thought to be far toodifficultC.A.R. HoarePerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Motivated - 28/30
    • Software engineers know many examples of things going terriblywrong because of program errors; their particular favorites are thefollowing twoThe blackout in the American North-East during the summerof 2003The Ariane 5, flight 501, the maiden flight of the rocket in June 4,1996, ended with an explosion 40 seconds into the flightPerceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 Motivated - 29/30
    • Questions?∗ ∗ ∗References:Blanchard, Undergraduate Computer Science Students: MeasuringPerception, Marketing and Satisfaction, 2011available at http://goo.gl/56n9BGuzdial & Soloway, Teaching the Nintendo Generation to Program,Communications of the ACM, 2002Beaubouef, Why CS students need math, SIGCSE, Vol 34, No 4,2002.Howles, Preliminary results of a longitudinal study of computerscience student trends, behaviors and preferences, Consortium ofComputing Sciences in Colleges, 2007.Reges, Back to Basics in CS1 and CS2, SIGCSE 2006.Perceptions - Blanchard & Soltys May 4, 2012 - v1.1 References - 30/30