Problem solving and programming

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A summary of the work being carried out in the school of science and technology, university of Northampton on the development of problem solving skills to support programming skill development.

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Problem solving and programming

  1. 1. Innovative Use of Robots and Graphical Programming in Software Education Scott Turner Division of Computing School of Science and Technology The University of Northampton Gary Hill Division of Computing School of Science and Technology The University of Northampton
  2. 2. The Module <ul><li>8 weeks are spent on problem-solving </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Initially stepwise refinement, group working and basic problem-solving concepts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As the module develops the focus moves from general concepts to solving problems based around robots. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Series of robot exercises. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessed by a robot based project. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comments from students are positive on the physical and visual nature of the approach. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Remaining 16-17 weeks Java programming. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assessed by building on the first assignment to build a GUI based version. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Employability <ul><li>Group-work </li></ul><ul><li>Presenting </li></ul><ul><li>Solving time-bounded problems </li></ul>
  5. 5. Example <ul><li>public class week2_4{ </li></ul><ul><li>        public static void main(String[] args) </li></ul><ul><li>        { </li></ul><ul><li>                robot2 harry=new robot2(); </li></ul><ul><li>                for(;;) </li></ul><ul><li>                { </li></ul><ul><li>                         //part of the routine inside the loop can go here </li></ul><ul><li>                        if (harry.checkBumpers()==true) </li></ul><ul><li>                        { </li></ul><ul><li>                                 //what to do on wall detection wall goes here </li></ul><ul><li>                        } </li></ul><ul><li>                         //further code could go here </li></ul><ul><li>                } </li></ul><ul><li>                 //code outside of the loop could go here </li></ul><ul><li>        } </li></ul><ul><li>} </li></ul>
  6. 6. Computing: Assessment <ul><li>8 weeks are spent on problem-solving </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessed by a robot based project. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessment includes elements aimed at: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Satisfactory level </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Moderate level </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>More Challenging </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Remaining 16-17 weeks Java programming. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessed by building on the first assignment to build a GUI based version. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Examples
  8. 8. Programming Assignment <ul><li>“ The java GUI application must emulate the movement of a robot to collect an item of rubbish and move it to a containment area before retreating/returning to a safe area/distance. ...It is expected that you may attempt to use and adapt previous robot routines produced as part of Assignment 1.” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Programming Assignment
  10. 10. Computing: Conclusions <ul><li>Problem-solving first before getting involved syntax of a programming language has some benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>Visual and physical nature of robot is an advantage. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From student feedback. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Problem ownership is still a problem – is a ‘freer’, student-generated project the answer? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Embedded in this year’s assignment. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Each year the problem-solving assignment has increased in challenge at the ‘more challenge’ end. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Questions to be answered <ul><li>Other approaches that offer the visual nature but more flexibility of where they can be used needs further consideration. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ALICE? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Has it improved students programming ability? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The work for the second assignment is reasonably high scoring. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is less clear is whether this is a short-term effect </li></ul></ul>

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