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Bridging the Gap between Computer Literacy and Computer Science Ken Abernethy and Kevin Treu Furman University Greenville, SC, USA Bob Shive Millsaps College.

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Presentation on theme: "Bridging the Gap between Computer Literacy and Computer Science Ken Abernethy and Kevin Treu Furman University Greenville, SC, USA Bob Shive Millsaps College."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bridging the Gap between Computer Literacy and Computer Science Ken Abernethy and Kevin Treu Furman University Greenville, SC, USA Bob Shive Millsaps College Jackson, MS, USA 4 th Annual LTSN-ICS Conference NUI Galway Galway, Ireland August 28, 2003

2 The Background All computer science departments agree that there is no agreement on the content of a beginning computer science course.

3 The Background (contd) A grant from the Associated Colleges of the South (USA) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation gave us the opportunity to consider a new type of course that goes beyond traditional computer literacy. After several iterations, we saw an opportunity to develop a course that is a bridge from literacy to CS. The idea is based on using concepts that serve as a follow-on from pre-college work or from a computer literacy course. The new course should provide students a better forecast of CS than most literacy courses do.

4 The Challenge Large numbers of students take a computer literacy/fluency course. There are few options for them to move naturally to additional CS courses. Very few of these students go on to enroll in the CS1 (or similar) course. How can we attract some significant portion of these students to further sample the discipline?

5 The Current Situation What is the proper preparation for the introductory computer science course (CS1)? Literacy/Fluency Course CS 0 Course CS 1 Course an optional preparation for CS1 students could move along these lines normal preparation for CS1 No Prerequisite Courses

6 Problems with this Approach The literacy course concentrates on computer applications and generally does not provide an introduction to algorithmic thinking. Literacy/Fluency Course CS 1 Course not very good preparation for success in CS1 Few additional options for a follow-on course

7 Problems with this Approach (contd) Few students in the literacy course are likely to be attracted to CS0. Literacy/Fluency Course CS 0 Course few students take this route

8 Problems with this Approach (contd) The CS0 course attracts only those students who already think they may want to major in CS or a related discipline. CS 0 Course CS 1 Course doesnt attract a large potential audience

9 Two Questions Is there a type of computing course (different from literacy or CS0) that would: be attractive to students in general; encourage them to consider continuing with CS1? What topics might provide the content for a course that would: serve as a natural follow-on for the literacy course; act as a bridge to the discipline of computer science?

10 Proposed New Course Algorithms and Problem-Solving with Scripting Literacy/Fluency Course CS 1 Course preparation for Algorithms & Problem-Solving with Scripting broad- based follow-on possible beginning course for those with basic computing skills

11 Main Course Topics Software development life cycle Algorithms and their development Web programming with JavaScript Server-side scripting with PHP Online databases with MySQL Writing applications for Access and Excel using VBA Java applets Animation with Flash and ActionScript

12 Some Example Applications Javascript slide show Code segment: var myPix = new Array(image1.jpg",image2.jpg) var thisPic = 0 function processPrevious() { if (thisPic > 0) { thisPic-- document.myPicture.src=myPix[thisPic] } Previous Next

13 Some Example Applications Pedagogical objectives: Easy, fun Variables Arrays Assignment Subroutines Decisions Client-side scripting

14 Some Example Applications PHP display of thumbnails from database Code segment: $SQL = "Select Imageid,Image from images where PlayID=$pID order by Imageid"; $result = mysql_db_query("CSSC", $SQL); $counter = 1; echo "(Click on a thumbnail to see the full size image.) "; echo " "; mysql_data_seek($result,0); while ($resultObject = mysql_fetch_object ($result)) { echo " Imageid. ".jpg> "; if ($counter % 4 == 0) { echo " "; } $counter = $counter + 1; } echo " ";

15 Some Example Applications Pedagogical objectives Fun (of course!) Database access Looping an indeterminate number of times Modulo arithmetic File manipulation Server-side scripting ?folder=database&file=playthumbs&pID=12

16 Some Example Applications Flash address book with ActionScript and PHP Code segment: // Sending information from Flash to PHP var c = new LoadVars(); c.thisLetter = "A"; c.send("dbquery.php","_self","POST"); // Receiving information from PHP var c = new LoadVars(); c.onLoad = function() { returnvals.text = "returned from php: \n\n"; for (i in this) { returnvals.text += i + " = " + this[i] + "\n"; } };

17 Some Example Applications Pedagogical objectives Fun… Variables FOR loops Object-oriented programming

18 Preliminary Student Response Scripting topics were added to 4 sections (81 students, four different instructors) of a literacy course at Furman University during Spring of Students were asked to describe their reaction to the coverage of scripting-related topics:

19 Course Delivery – One Example A variety of course delivery designs could be employed. Materials will be further tested at Millsaps College and Furman University next year. At Furman, a new course Introduction to Computing with Scripting will be taught in Spring of Assumes Web authoring skills and basic computing knowledge Class carries four semester hours of credit Topic coverage is being developed modularly. Meets five 50-minute periods per week Two-hour lab each week See for online syllabus with tutorials.http://s9000.furman.edu/cs17

20 Conclusions A course with a focus on algorithmic thinking and scripting is proposed to provide a bridge experience from a computer literacy course to CS1. The course design is modular to allow various delivery options. Preliminary experiences with scripting modules in a literacy course have been positive: 37% of responses from 81 students in four sections indicated that they would have liked some more or much more coverage of sample scripting topics. An additional 56% of responses indicated that the coverage was about right. Only 7% of responses indicated that the coverage was too much. A new course, Introduction to Computing with Scripting, will be offered and assessed at Furman University in Spring Modules will tested at Millsaps College during

21 Comments / Questions ?


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