ACM Transactions on Computing Education

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Assessing Problem-Based Learning in a Software Engineering Curriculum Using Bloom’s Taxonomy and the IEEE Software Engineering Body of Knowledge

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 20:00
Peter Dolog, Lone Leth Thomsen, Bent Thomsen

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) has often been seen as an all-or-nothing approach, difficult to apply in traditional curricula based on traditional lectured courses with exercise and lab sessions. Aalborg University has since its creation in 1974 practiced PBL in all subjects, including computer science and software engineering, following a model that has become known as the Aalborg Model. Following a strategic decision in 2009, the Aalborg Model has been reshaped. We first report on the software engineering program as it was in the old Aalborg Model. We analyze the programme wrt competence levels according to Bloom’s taxonomy and compare it with the expected skills and competencies for an engineer passing a general software engineering 4-year program with an additional 4 years of experience as defined in the IEEE Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK) [Abran et al.

Learning Computer Science: Dimensions of Variation Within

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 20:00
Neena Thota, Anders Berglund

We know from research that there is an intimate relationship between student learning and the context of learning. What is not known or understood well enough is the relationship of the students’ background and previous studies to the understanding and learning of the subject area—here, computer science (CS). To show the contextual influences on learning CS, we present empirical data from a qualitative investigation of the experiences of Chinese students studying for a master degree at Sweden's Uppsala University. Data were collected of the students’ understanding and learning of CS, their experience of the teaching and their own studies, and of their personal development in Sweden.

Gender and Performance in Computer Science

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 20:00
Isabel Wagner

The term gender gap refers to the significant underrepresentation of females in many subjects. In Computer Science, the gender gap exists at all career levels. In this article, we study whether there is a performance gap in addition to the gender gap. To answer this question, we analyzed statistical data on student performance in Computer Science from 129 universities in the United Kingdom covering the years 2002 to 2013. We find that male students were awarded significantly more first-class degrees than female students. We evaluate four other subjects—Subjects Allied to Medicine, Business & Administrative Studies, Mathematical Sciences, and Engineering & Technology—& Technology——and find that they do not exhibit this performance gap.

Using a Real Bare Machine in a Project-Based Learning Environment for Teaching Computer Structure: An Analysis of the Implementation Following the Action Research Model

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 20:00
Edurne Larraza-Mendiluze, Nestor Garay-Vitoria, Iratxe Soraluze, José Martín, Javier Muguerza, Txelo Ruiz-Vázquez

The computer input/output (I/O) subsystem and its functioning are very abstract concepts that are difficult for undergraduate freshmen to understand. However, it is important that freshmen assimilate these low-level concepts if they are going to be taught about the operating systems (OS) working over that architecture layer, or working directly with them in embedded systems, real-time systems, or in the area of human--computer interaction (HCI). This article describes the use of a game console (Nintendo® DS, NDS) in a project-based learning (PBL or PjBL) environment in which the design of a game is the basis of the project in order to encourage the students to get more involved with the computer I/O subsystem abstraction.

Team Projects in Computing Education

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 19:00
Jürgen Börstler, Thomas B. Hilburn

Team projects are a way to expose students to conflicting project objectives, and “[t]here should be a strong real-world element … to ensure that the experience is realistic” [ACM/IEEE-CS 2015b]. Team projects provide an opportunity for students to put their education into practice and prepare them for their professional careers. The aim of this special issue, and the previous one, is to collect and share evidence about the state of practice of team projects in computing education and to help educators in designing and running team projects.

Interdisciplinary Projects in the Academic Studio

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 19:00
Paul Gestwicki, Brian McNely

We define and describe the academic studio model for interdisciplinary, undergraduate, project-oriented education. This model brings faculty, students, and community partners together to investigate an open-ended academic question, and their collaboration yields an original product that represents their inquiry. The academic studio integrates agile software development practice, project-oriented pedagogy, and sociocultural cognition theories. Scrum provides the framework in which self-organizing, cross-functional teams define their methodology, and Scrum practices facilitate assessment of student learning outcomes. This model emerged from design-based research across six studio instances, each of which investigated the relationship of fun, games, and learning through the development of educational video games.

Measuring and Understanding Team Development by Capturing Self-assessed Enthusiasm and Skill Levels

Fri, 02/26/2016 - 19:00
David L. Largent

To prepare graduates for today's work environment, they must be immersed in positive (and perhaps negative) small group experiences in their courses, which will in turn provide a basic understanding of how teams form and develop over time. In the fall of 2009, we started exploring how software development teams form and interact in a computer science college capstone course setting. Our initial findings were presented at ICER 2010 in Aarhus, Denmark. The focus of our research was on the experiences of computer science college course teams as compared and contrasted to the theory of Bruce Tuckman's stages of small group development model, which he characterized as forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.

Keeping TOCE on a Positive Trajectory

Thu, 02/18/2016 - 19:00
Christopher D. Hundhausen

In my inaugural editorial as the new editor-in-chief of the ACM Transactions on Computing Education, I take stock of the journal's progress in its first 6 years of existence, and I describe my plans to help the journal maintain its positive trajectory as a viable and vibrant computing education research journal.

Exploration of Participation in Student Software Engineering Teams

Tue, 02/16/2016 - 19:00
Linda Marshall, Vreda Pieterse, Lisa Thompson, Dina M. Venter

Employers require software engineers to work in teams when developing software systems. It is therefore important for graduates to have experienced teamwork before they enter the job market. We describe an experiential learning exercise that we designed to teach the software engineering process in conjunction with teamwork skills. The underlying teaching strategy applied in the exercise maximises risks in order to provide maximal experiential learning opportunities. The students are expected to work in fairly large, yet short-lived, instructor-assigned teams to complete software engineering tasks. After undergoing the exercise our students form self-selected teams for their capstone projects. In this article, we determine and report on the influence the teaching exercise had on the formation of teams for the capstone project.

A Method to Analyze Computer Science Students’ Teamwork in Online Collaborative Learning Environments

Tue, 02/16/2016 - 19:00
Rebecca Vivian, Katrina Falkner, Nickolas Falkner, Hamid Tarmazdi

Although teamwork has been identified as an essential skill for Computer Science (CS) graduates, these skills are identified as lacking by industry employers, which suggests a need for more proactive measures to teach and assess teamwork. In one CS course, students worked in teams to create a wiki solution to problem-based questions. Through a case-study approach, we test a developed teamwork framework, using manual content analysis and sentiment analysis, to determine if the framework can provide insight into students’ teamwork behavior and to determine if the wiki task encouraged students to collaborate, share knowledge, and self-adopt teamwork roles. Analysis revealed the identification of both active and cohesive teams, disengaged students, and particular roles and behaviors that were lacking.