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ACM Transactions on Computing Education

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EarSketch: A STEAM-Based Approach for Underrepresented Populations in High School Computer Science Education

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 20:00
Brian Magerko, Jason Freeman, Tom Mcklin, Mike Reilly, Elise Livingston, Scott Mccoid, Andrea Crews-Brown

This article presents EarSketch, a learning environment that combines computer programming with sample-based music production to create a computational remixing environment for learning introductory computing concepts. EarSketch has been employed in both formal and informal settings, yielding significant positive results in student content knowledge and attitudes toward computing as a discipline, especially in ethnic and gender populations that are currently underrepresented in computing fields. This article describes the rationale and components of EarSketch, the evaluation design, and lessons learned to apply to future environment design and development.

Flipping and Blending—An Action Research Project on Improving a Functional Programming Course

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 20:00
Ville Isomöttönen, Ville Tirronen

This article reports on an action research project on improving a functional programming course by moving toward a practical and flexible study environment—flipped and blended classroom. Teaching the topic of functional programming was found to be troublesome using a traditional lectured course format. The need to increase students’ amount of practice emerged while subsequent challenges relating to students’ independent practical coursework were observed. Particular concerns relating to group work, learning materials, and the attribute of flexibility were investigated during the third action research cycle. The research cycle was analyzed using a qualitative survey on students’ views, teacher narrative, and students’ study activity data.

Computer Science Education for Primary and Lower Secondary School Students: Teaching the Concept of Automata

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 20:00
Daiki Isayama, Masaki Ishiyama, Raissa Relator, Koichi Yamazaki

We explore the feasibility of early introduction to automata theory through gamification. We designed a puzzle game that players can answer correctly if they understand the fundamental concepts of automata theory. In our investigation, 90 children played the game, and their actions were recorded in play logs. An analysis of the play logs shows that approximately 60% of the children achieved correct-answer rates of at least 70%, which suggests that primary and lower secondary school students can understand the fundamental concepts of automata theory.

How Do Different Cognitive Styles Affect Learning Programming? Insights from a Game-Based Approach in Greek Schools

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 20:00
Anastasios Theodoropoulos, Angeliki Antoniou, George Lepouras

Is there any relationship between students’ cognitive style and the ability to learn programming through serious games? The aim of this work is to assess the learning effectiveness and motivational appeal of digital games for learning basic programming concepts, involving secondary education students. For this purpose, the Code.org®’s activity named K-8 Intro to Computer Science was used. The study investigated students’ attitudes from gaming activities to reveal the quality of their learning experience. Next, students’ attitudes from games were correlated with their cognitive profile to reveal potential differences. Finally, students’ performance from the digital games was assessed to reveal game-based learning (GBL) effectiveness compared to their cognitive styles.

Evaluation of Model Driven Architecture-Based Instruction for Understanding Phase Transitions in Object-Oriented Analysis and Design

Mon, 08/15/2016 - 20:00
Shin-Shing Shin

Object-Oriented Analysis and Design (OOAD) courses enable students to establish a requirements model of an application, successively transform those requirements into logical design models, and then transform the logical models into physical design models. However, students attending OOAD courses typically encounter difficulties in the transition. Model-Driven Architecture (MDA) provides a model transformation framework for transitioning between OOAD phases. Considering the advantages of MDA in phase transitions, this study proposes that integrating conventional OOAD instruction with the MDA framework and describing transition relations in diagrammatic representations might improve students’ understanding of the transitions. This study used an empirical design that involved using two treatments (MDA-based and conventional instruction) to examine the relevance of MDA-based instruction in the effective understanding of the transitions on the basis of cognitive load theory, the split-attention principle, and theories of representation format.

Redesigning an Object-Oriented Programming Course

Mon, 08/15/2016 - 20:00
Erkki Kaila, Einari Kurvinen, Erno Lokkila, Mikko-Jussi Laakso

Educational technology offers several potential benefits for programming education. Still, to facilitate the technology properly, integration into a course must be carefully designed. In this article, we present a redesign of an object-oriented university-level programming course. In the redesign, a collaborative education tool was utilized to enhance active learning, facilitate communication between students and teachers, and remodel the evaluation procedure by utilizing automatically assessed tasks. The redesign was based on the best practices found in our own earlier research and that of the research community, with a focus on facilitating active learning methods and student collaboration. The redesign was evaluated by comparing two instances of the redesigned course against two instances using the old methodology.