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ACM Transactions on Computing Education

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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.

Undergraduate Students’ Perceptions of the Impact of Pre-College Computing Activities on Choices of Major

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 20:00
Monica M. McGill, Adrienne Decker, Amber Settle

A lack of diversity in the computing field has existed for several decades, and although female participation in computing remains low, outreach programs attempting to address the situation are now quite numerous. To begin to understand whether or not these past activities have had long-term impact, we conducted a systematic literature review. Upon discovering that longitudinal studies were lacking, we investigated whether undergraduate students believed that their participation in computing activities prior to college contributed to their decision to major in a computing field. From the 770 participants in the study, we discovered that approximately 20% of males and 24% of females who were required to participate in computing activities chose a computing or related major, but that males perceived that the activity had a greater affect on their decision (20%) than females (6.9%).

Security Injections@Towson: Integrating Secure Coding into Introductory Computer Science Courses

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 20:00
Blair Taylor, Siddharth Kaza

Despite the critical societal importance of computer security, security is not well integrated into the undergraduate computing curriculum. Security classes and tracks treat security issues as separable topics as opposed to fundamental issues that pervade all aspects of software development. Recently, there has been an increasing focus on security as a cross-cutting concern across the computer science curriculum. The Security Injections@Towson project provides resources and effective strategies to incorporate secure coding in the early programming classes. We describe the development, assessment, and dissemination of more than 40 lab-based security injection modules designed to be injected into courses with minimal impact on the curriculum.

Heuristic Evaluation for Novice Programming Systems

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 20:00
Michael Kölling, Fraser McKay

The past few years has seen a proliferation of novice programming tools. The availability of a large number of systems has made it difficult for many users to choose among them. Even for education researchers, comparing the relative quality of these tools, or judging their respective suitability for a given context, is hard in many instances. For designers of such systems, assessing the respective quality of competing design decisions can be equally difficult. Heuristic evaluation provides a practical method of assessing the quality of alternatives in these situations and of identifying potential problems with existing systems for a given target group or context.

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.