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Using Programmed Instruction to
Help Students
Engage with eTextbook Content
Mostafa Mohammed, Susan Rodger, and Clifford A. Shaffer
Outline
● Introduction
○ Traditional Formal Languages course, Programmed Instruction, OpenDSA, and JFLAP
● Motivation
● JFLAP, and OpenFLAP
● Designing new Formal Languages eTextBook
○ Frames
○ Automated Exercises
● Conclusions
Traditional Formal Languages
● Formal languages course
○ mathematical in nature
● Traditional textbooks heavy on prose
● Homework assignments - paper exercises.
● Students read significant amount of text and
● Practice problems by hand
Programmed Instruction
● Programmed Instruction is an instructional methodology centered on
Skinner’s principle of stimulus control and reinforcement to shape
behavior.
● Instruction follows a linearly logical sequence
○ Decomposes content into well-defined small curriculum units.
○ Presentis a small sentence or paragraph followed by asking a simple question about that
information
● PI supports learning through a systematic reinforcing approach
○ Students can advance incrementally and receive immediate feedback
○ Students are rewarded in a self-paced manner.
Programmed Instruction Example
OpenDSA
● The OpenDSA project at Virginia Tech is concerned with building
complete eTextbooks for different topics in computer science
● These eTextbooks are enhanced with various embedded artifacts
○ Visualizations.
○ Exercises with automated assessment.
○ Slideshows.
● OpenDSA allows instructors to create instances of complete interactive
eTextbooks that integrate interactive artifacts with the textual content.
● OpenDSA contains a supply of slideshows produced using the JSAV
(JavaScript Algorithm Visualization) framework.
Motivation
● Students need to read a significant amount of text and do practice
problems by hand to achieve understanding.
● Electronic textbooks have many useful methods to display the
content to students.
● However, unless carefully designed, students abuse these methods to
earn grades without studying the content carefully
Motivation
JFLAP(Java Formal Languages and
Automata Package)
● The state-of-the-art simulator for Formal Languages
courses.
● Simulates the models that are used in Formal
Languages courses
○ Apply different algorithms on these models
○ Test these models with different input strings.
● Increases student engagement and interaction.
● Helps students understand different Formal
Languages models
OpenFLAP
● There are some cons of using JFLAP
○ it is built using Java
○ There is no support to give students
questions and auto assess them.
● One of our goals is to re-implement
JFLAP functionality using web
technologies, HTML5 and JavaScript.
We call it OpenFLAP.
● To build the required Programmed Instruction materials, we need
○ a system to deliver and display the information and the question.
○ a mechanism to control when students can move forward
● OpenDSA has a suitable starting point called Slideshows. Slideshows have
a significant disadvantage
○ Students can freely skip any number of slides.
● The frame is similar to the slide.
○ Satisfaction criterion.
○ Students can not got to the next slide unless they satisfy the satisfaction criterion.
Frames
Frame Examples
Designing a new Formal Languages
eTextBook
The project consists of the following phases.
1. Baseline phase: in Spring 2018 we taught a version of the Formal
Languages course with traditional materials.
a. heavy on prose and light on visualizations.
b. We used JFLAP for some homework and some content presentation.
2. Visualizations phase, Spring 2019, we implemented most of the critical
JFLAP functionality
a. The same prose with visualizations for all algorithms
Designing a new Formal Languages
eTextBook
3. Visualizations with automated exercise. Fall 2019
4. Programmed Instruction eTextbook. In Spring 2020, we will use the
developed PI frames infrastructure to build our new eTextbook system
Automated Exercises
● We provide auto-assessed exercise.
● No grading effort required.
● Students can practice more and get
immediate feedback
● By using OpenFLAP
○ Ask students to build a model.
○ Check accuracy with unit test cases.
Conclusions
● Static presentation can be easily abused or skipped by students.
● In this paper we proposed to use Programmed Instruction (PI) pedagogy.
○ PI is based on frames, small units of text along with a question or exercise
○ Students must answer the question before continuing to the next frame.
● We have implemented a frame-based system, and will collect the data to
analyze the effectiveness of this approach.
Conclusions

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Using Programmed Instruction Frames to Engage Students with an eTextbook on Formal Languages

  • 1. Using Programmed Instruction to Help Students Engage with eTextbook Content Mostafa Mohammed, Susan Rodger, and Clifford A. Shaffer
  • 2. Outline ● Introduction ○ Traditional Formal Languages course, Programmed Instruction, OpenDSA, and JFLAP ● Motivation ● JFLAP, and OpenFLAP ● Designing new Formal Languages eTextBook ○ Frames ○ Automated Exercises ● Conclusions
  • 3. Traditional Formal Languages ● Formal languages course ○ mathematical in nature ● Traditional textbooks heavy on prose ● Homework assignments - paper exercises. ● Students read significant amount of text and ● Practice problems by hand
  • 4. Programmed Instruction ● Programmed Instruction is an instructional methodology centered on Skinner’s principle of stimulus control and reinforcement to shape behavior. ● Instruction follows a linearly logical sequence ○ Decomposes content into well-defined small curriculum units. ○ Presentis a small sentence or paragraph followed by asking a simple question about that information ● PI supports learning through a systematic reinforcing approach ○ Students can advance incrementally and receive immediate feedback ○ Students are rewarded in a self-paced manner.
  • 6. OpenDSA ● The OpenDSA project at Virginia Tech is concerned with building complete eTextbooks for different topics in computer science ● These eTextbooks are enhanced with various embedded artifacts ○ Visualizations. ○ Exercises with automated assessment. ○ Slideshows. ● OpenDSA allows instructors to create instances of complete interactive eTextbooks that integrate interactive artifacts with the textual content. ● OpenDSA contains a supply of slideshows produced using the JSAV (JavaScript Algorithm Visualization) framework.
  • 7. Motivation ● Students need to read a significant amount of text and do practice problems by hand to achieve understanding. ● Electronic textbooks have many useful methods to display the content to students. ● However, unless carefully designed, students abuse these methods to earn grades without studying the content carefully
  • 9. JFLAP(Java Formal Languages and Automata Package) ● The state-of-the-art simulator for Formal Languages courses. ● Simulates the models that are used in Formal Languages courses ○ Apply different algorithms on these models ○ Test these models with different input strings. ● Increases student engagement and interaction. ● Helps students understand different Formal Languages models
  • 10. OpenFLAP ● There are some cons of using JFLAP ○ it is built using Java ○ There is no support to give students questions and auto assess them. ● One of our goals is to re-implement JFLAP functionality using web technologies, HTML5 and JavaScript. We call it OpenFLAP.
  • 11. ● To build the required Programmed Instruction materials, we need ○ a system to deliver and display the information and the question. ○ a mechanism to control when students can move forward ● OpenDSA has a suitable starting point called Slideshows. Slideshows have a significant disadvantage ○ Students can freely skip any number of slides. ● The frame is similar to the slide. ○ Satisfaction criterion. ○ Students can not got to the next slide unless they satisfy the satisfaction criterion. Frames
  • 13. Designing a new Formal Languages eTextBook The project consists of the following phases. 1. Baseline phase: in Spring 2018 we taught a version of the Formal Languages course with traditional materials. a. heavy on prose and light on visualizations. b. We used JFLAP for some homework and some content presentation. 2. Visualizations phase, Spring 2019, we implemented most of the critical JFLAP functionality a. The same prose with visualizations for all algorithms
  • 14. Designing a new Formal Languages eTextBook 3. Visualizations with automated exercise. Fall 2019 4. Programmed Instruction eTextbook. In Spring 2020, we will use the developed PI frames infrastructure to build our new eTextbook system
  • 15. Automated Exercises ● We provide auto-assessed exercise. ● No grading effort required. ● Students can practice more and get immediate feedback ● By using OpenFLAP ○ Ask students to build a model. ○ Check accuracy with unit test cases.
  • 16. Conclusions ● Static presentation can be easily abused or skipped by students. ● In this paper we proposed to use Programmed Instruction (PI) pedagogy. ○ PI is based on frames, small units of text along with a question or exercise ○ Students must answer the question before continuing to the next frame. ● We have implemented a frame-based system, and will collect the data to analyze the effectiveness of this approach.