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More Than Literacy: Creating a Breadth-First Survey Course for the Future Julia E. Benson Georgia Perimeter College.

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Presentation on theme: "More Than Literacy: Creating a Breadth-First Survey Course for the Future Julia E. Benson Georgia Perimeter College."— Presentation transcript:

1 More Than Literacy: Creating a Breadth-First Survey Course for the Future Julia E. Benson Georgia Perimeter College

2 Todays Talk w About GPC and its CS program w Initial Course Development Details in conference proceedings w Update Whats happening this fall

3 Georgia Perimeter College w Two year school w Third-largest institution in the University System w Five locations in metropolitan Atlanta Computer Science offered at three locations w Approximately 16,000 students

4 Our Students w Large population of non-traditional students w International student population is largest in the state 15% of total enrollment on F-1 visa Many others are recent immigrants w Over 40% of students begin in Learning Support courses

5 Why A Survey Course? w Semester conversion spurred a curriculum revision Modernize and update curriculum Move into line with ACM curriculum guidelines Provide realistic view of discipline

6 Why? (cont.) w Student population characteristics mean many students have little prior computer experience w A new approach was needed to meet our students needs…..

7 The New CS Curriculum w ATEC 1201/1203 Applied Technology (i.e. literacy) Required of all students Provide fundamental technology background ATEC 1201 -- computing concepts ATEC 1202 -- basic skills (word processing and Internet use)

8 The New CS Curriculum (cont.) w CSCI 1401/1301/1302 Required of CS majors Assume a basic computing background CSCI 1401 -- survey CSCI 1301/1302 -- Principles of CS I/II

9 CSCI 1401 Introduction to Computer Science w Provides an overview of selected major areas of current computing technology. w Focuses on hands-on experience w Pulls together overview materials that were previously scattered throughout curriculum

10 CSCI 1401 Major Topics w History/Vocabulary of Computers w Data Representation and Storage w Computer Hardware w Computer Software w Communications Technologies w Social/Ethical Issues w Algorithmic Design/Programming Concepts

11 CSCI 1401 Pilot Courses w First pass -- Fall quarter 1997 One section at Dunwoody campus w Second pass -- Spring quarter 1998 One section at Dunwoody campus One section at Clarkston campus Sections were not coordinated

12 Pilot Course Results w Student performance Dunwoody campus: 32% of students withdrew at/before midpoint 81% of remaining students received a C or better Compares favorably with prior non-majors programming course

13 Pilot Course Results (cont.) w Informal comments were largely favorable w Very few complaints to administration w Students continuing to other CS classes were very successful w Students have recommended course to others

14 Update -- October 1998 w Current Status w Changes From Pilot Curriculum w Whats Working w What Isnt Working w Too Soon To Tell w Future Plans

15 Current Status w One completed section (half-semester) at Dunwoody campus w Sections in progress: Two at Dunwoody campus at Clarkston campus at Lawrenceville campus

16 Current Status (cont.) w Five instructors Four full-time One part-time w Enrollment (beginning of term) 68 students at Dunwoody students at Clarkston students at Lawrenceville

17 Current Status (cont.) w ATEC prerequisite was waived for 1998-99 Enrollment concerns

18 Changes From Pilot Courses w Course enrollment largely computer science majors Pilot courses were predominantly non-majors w Basic curriculum remains very similar Pilot curriculum assumed no computing background Waiver of ATEC prerequisite continues assumption

19 Changes (cont.) w In-class lab work counts towards grade For Dunwoody sections, 10% w New assignments Explore functions/iteration using a spreadsheet to compare loan payment plans Book review: social or ethical issue w Programming language is Pascal rather than QBASIC

20 Whats Working w Student interest is high All sections offered were filled, even over- filled w Projects are very popular with students Relevant to their lives Interesting, use practical skills

21 Whats Working (cont.) w Curriculum lines up well with standard credit-by-exam programs CLEP -- very similar except that CLEP includes business/career issues DANTES -- almost identical w Curriculum follows ACM guidelines for CS0

22 What Isnt Working w Half-semester course scheduling Too rushed, several topics were shortchanged Not enough time to complete all projects Omitted group presentation and problem set Only one programming assignment Retention: 23 students enrolled, 5 withdrew at/before midpoint Only 10 passed with a C or better

23 What Isnt Working (cont.) w Current textbook/lab manual Chosen as best-available, but Does not fit our curriculum Contains much unneeded material Missing important information Students find book hard to use Web-based auxiliary materials are not available Lab exercises contain many errors

24 Its Too Soon to Tell w Will this better prepare our CS majors for later courses? w Will this improve student performance in later courses? w At least a year before we can draw conclusions

25 Future Plans w Fix the textbook problem! Find something appropriate, or Write it ourselves Trick is to find something with broad coverage that goes beyond elementary issues

26 Future Plans (cont.) w Move into a transitional phase Phase out material covered in ATEC De-emphasize/refine coverage of basic hardware/software/architecture Expand coverage of network technologies Expand social/ethical issue coverage Focus on algorithmic development

27 Future Plans (cont.) w Continue wrestling with programming and the language issue Pascal in this course vs. C++ in later courses Does this help or confuse the student? What about Java? What about a completely different approach?

28 Future Plans (cont.) w Most important, make sure the course stays current!

29 Acknowledgements: w The GPC Computer Science faculty: especially Ashraful Chowdhury also Anant Honkan and Gene Shepherd w Sue Henderson, department chair w The GPC OIT staff, particularly Trish Fields John Cothran Hunter Eidson

30 For More Information: w This presentation ations/RockEagle98/ ations/RockEagle98/ w CSCI 1401 Course Site 1/csci1401.htm 1/csci1401.htm Syllabus, assignments, course library, other resources

31 Contact: w Julia E. Benson Assistant Professor of Computer Science Georgia Perimeter College

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