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ACM Transactions on Computing Education

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Chutes and Ladders: Institutional Setbacks on the Computer Science Community College Transfer Pathway

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 19:00
Louise Ann Lyon, Jill Denner

Community colleges play a large role in educating students who are historically underrepresented in computer science (CS), including women, Latino men, and Black men, as well as post-traditional (older or working) students. In spite of this, there is a dearth of research on the institutional factors that influence whether or not community college students who are enrolled in CS classes and who express an interest in transferring and completing a bachelor’s degree in the field persist. The overused “pipeline” metaphor, which indicates a supply-side lack, has been replaced by many with that of a “pathway.” However, the “pathway” image suggests a general forward-moving trend that can be misleading.

The Effects of Adding Non-Compulsory Exercises to an Online Learning Tool on Student Performance and Code Copying

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:00
César Domínguez, Arturo Jaime, Jónathan Heras, Francisco J. García-Izquierdo

This study analyzes the impact of adding a review exercises module to an online tool used in a software engineering degree program. The objective of the module is to promote students’ self-learning effort to improve their performance. We also intend to determine if this new feature has any effect on the amount of code copies detected in lab sessions when using the same online tool. Two groups of students were compared quantitatively: the first group used the tool exclusively during lab sessions, whereas the second group had the option of employing the tool's new module to enhance their study. The tool allows us to collect interesting data related to the focus of this research: supplementary work completed voluntarily by students and the percentage of students copying others’ code during compulsory lab sessions.

Digital and Physical Fabrication as Multimodal Learning: Understanding Youth Computational Thinking When Making Integrated Systems Through Bidirectionally Responsive Design

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:00
Gabriela T. Richard, Sagun Giri

This article proposes and explores the kinds of computational thinking, creative practices, design activities, and inclusive learning opportunities provided to diverse high school youth when designing integrated systems through simultaneously physically and digitally responsive wearable games and systems. Previous work in this area, conducted by Richard, coined the term “bidirectionally responsive design” (BRD) to describe the design of dual-feedback systems using multiple digital and physical interfaces. BRD also emphasizes using simplified fabrication tools, media and coding platforms, and microcontrollers common in youth content creation communities and makerspaces. This study provides a framework to analyze computational concepts, practices, and perspectives that leverage an integrated systems and multimodal learning approach, such as BRD, adding to, building on, and integrating previous analytic approaches to looking at Scratch coding, media design, physical computing and e-textiles.

A Robust Machine Learning Technique to Predict Low-performing Students

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:00
Soohyun Nam Liao, Daniel Zingaro, Kevin Thai, Christine Alvarado, William G. Griswold, Leo Porter

As enrollments and class sizes in postsecondary institutions have increased, instructors have sought automated and lightweight means to identify students who are at risk of performing poorly in a course. This identification must be performed early enough in the term to allow instructors to assist those students before they fall irreparably behind. This study describes a modeling methodology that predicts student final exam scores in the third week of the term by using the clicker data that is automatically collected for instructors when they employ the Peer Instruction pedagogy. The modeling technique uses a support vector machine binary classifier, trained on one term of a course, to predict outcomes in the subsequent term.

Does Computer Game Design and Programming Benefit Children? A Meta-Synthesis of Research

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:00
Jill Denner, Shannon Campe, Linda Werner

It is widely believed that there are educational benefits to making computer games, but there is no systematic review of research on this topic. This article describes a meta-synthesis of research on children designing and programming computer games that investigates the extent to which there is evidence of benefits for computer science learning and motivation. Over 400 articles were identified, and 68 articles met the inclusion criteria. A systematic analysis and synthesis across studies showed some evidence that computer game design and programming can lead to changes in programming knowledge, problem solving, and computer science attitudes and confidence. However, most of the evidence described engagement in computing-related practices and did not measure learning.

Identifying Pathways to Computer Science: The Long-Term Impact of Short-Term Game Programming Outreach Interventions

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:00
Antti-Jussi Lakanen, Tommi Kärkkäinen

Short-term outreach interventions are conducted to raise young students’ awareness of the computer science (CS) field. Typically, these interventions are targeted at K–12 students, attempting to encourage them to study CS in higher education. This study is based on a series of extra-curricular outreach events that introduced students to the discipline of computing, nurturing creative computational thinking through problem solving and game programming. To assess the long-term impact of this campaign, the participants were contacted and interviewed two to five years after they had attended an outreach event. We studied how participating in the outreach program affected the students’ perceptions of CS as a field and, more importantly, how it affected their educational choices.

A Framework for Teaching Security Design Analysis Using Case Studies and the Hybrid Flipped Classroom

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:00
Nikola Luburić, Goran Sladić, Jelena Slivka, Branko Milosavljević

With ever-greater reliance of the developed world on information and communication technologies, constructing secure software has become a top priority. To produce secure software, security activities need to be integrated throughout the software development lifecycle. One such activity is security design analysis (SDA), which identifies security requirements as early as the software design phase. While considered an important step in software development, the general opinion of information security subject matter experts and researchers is that SDA is challenging to learn and teach. Experimental evidence provided in literature confirms this claim. To help solve this, we have developed a framework for teaching SDA by utilizing case study analysis and the hybrid flipped classroom approach.

Learning IS Child’s Play: Game-Based Learning in Computer Science Education

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:00
Hadi Hosseini, Maxwell Hartt, Mehrnaz Mostafapour

Game-based learning has received significant attention in educational pedagogy as an effective way of increasing student motivation and engagement. The majority of the work in this area has been focused on digital games or games involving technology. We focus on the use of traditional game design in improving student engagement and perception of learning in teaching computer science concepts in higher education.

Transformative and Troublesome? Students' and Professional Programmers' Perspectives on Difficult Concepts in Programming

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 19:00
Lucy Yeomans, Steffen Zschaler, Kelly Coate

Programming skills are an increasingly desirable asset across disciplines; however, learning to program continues to be difficult for many students. To improve pedagogy, we need to better understand the concepts that students find difficult and which have the biggest impact on their learning. Threshold-concept theory provides a potential lens on student learning, focusing on concepts that are troublesome and transformative. However, there is still a lack of consensus as to what the most relevant threshold concepts in programming are. The challenges involved are related to concept granularity and to evidencing some of the properties expected of threshold concepts. In this article, we report on a qualitative study aiming to address some of these concerns.

Taking a Studio Course in Distributed Software Engineering from a Large Local Cohort to a Small Global Cohort

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 19:00
William Billingsley, Rosemary Torbay, Peter R. Fletcher, Richard N. Thomas, Jim R. H. Steel, Jörn Guy Süß

One of the challenges of global software engineering courses is to bring the practices and experience of large geographically distributed teams into the local and time-limited environment of a classroom. Over the last 6 years, an on-campus studio course for software engineering has been developed at the University of Queensland (UQ) that places small teams of students on different features of a common product. This creates two layers of collaboration, as students work within their teams on individual features, and the teams must interoperate with many other teams on the common product. The class uses continuous integration practices and predominantly asynchronous communication channels (Slack and GitHub) to facilitate this collaboration.

Assessing the Impact of the Distributed Software Development Course on the Careers of Young Software Engineers

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 19:00
Ivana Bosnić, Igor Čavrak, Mario Žagar

Various software engineering (SE) curricula in higher education have started including courses on global software engineering (GSE), carried out as internationally distributed project-based courses. These courses, known for their closeness to “real-world” work experience, emphasize the importance of involving industry partners as customers and focus on soft skills essential for employment, an aspect often neglected in engineering education. However, not many such courses are long-lived or consistent in form throughout the years, making their impact and relevance hard to assess. The Distributed Software Development course (DSD), currently run among three universities in Croatia, Italy, and Sweden, has now been carried out for 15 years consecutively, providing a rich source of in-course and post-graduation data.

Assessing Students’ IT Professional Values in a Global Project Setting

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 19:00
S. Frezza, M. Daniels, A. Wilkin

This research aimed at evaluating the development and use of low-cost affective domain assessment instruments, culminating with personal and group characterization of representative global information technology (IT) professional values. Values and valuing are a compelling component of Bloom's affective domain of learning for engineering education. In helping students develop professional engineering competencies, it is essential that they develop not just cognitive knowledge of something but also values related to that knowledge and the ability to express these values in professional action. However, even if some professional values are identified, understood, and expressed, assessing students’ values and valuing are difficult, and assessment instruments are often difficult to develop, particularly for assessing student learning in the context of a particular course.

Managing Diversity in Distributed Software Development Education—A Longitudinal Case Study

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 19:00
Ivana Bosnić, Federico Ciccozzi, Ivica Crnković, Igor Čavrak, Elisabetta Di Nitto, Raffaela Mirandola, Mario Žagar

Teaching Distributed Software Development with real distributed settings is a challenging and rewarding task. Distributed courses are idiosyncratically more challenging than standard local courses. We have experienced this during our distributed course, which has been run for 14 consecutive years. In this article, we present and analyze the emerging diversities specific to distributed project-based courses. We base our arguments on our experience, and we exploit a three-layered distributed course model, which we use to analyze several course elements throughout the 14-years lifetime of our distributed project-based course. In particular, we focus on the changes that the course underwent throughout the years, combining findings obtained from the analyzed data with our own teaching perceptions.

Searching for Global Employability: Can Students Capitalize on Enabling Learning Environments?

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 19:00
Ville Isomöttönen, Mats Daniels, Åsa Cajander, Arnold Pears, Roger Mcdermott

Literature on global employability signifies “enabling” learning environments where students encounter ill-formed and open-ended problems and are required to adapt and be creative. Varying forms of “projects,” co-located and distributed, have populated computing curricula for decades and are generally deemed an answer to this call. We performed a qualitative study to describe how project course students are able to capitalize on the promise of enabling learning environments. This critical perspective was motivated by the circumstance of the present-day education systems being heavily regulated for the precipitated production of human capital. The students involved in our study described education system-imposed and group-imposed narratives of narrowed opportunities, as well as many self-related challenges.

Exploring and Expanding GSE Education with Open Source Software Development

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 19:00
Rune Hjelsvold, Deepti Mishra

Global software engineering (GSE) courses traditionally require cooperation between at least two universities so as to provide a distributed development environment to the students. In this study, we explore an alternative way to organize a global software engineering course where students work on open source software development (OSSD) projects rather than in a multi-university collaboration setting. The results show that the new setup may provide core GSE challenges as well as challenges associated with software development outsourcing and challenges related to working on large open source software. The present article compares the experiences gained from running a combined GSE and OSSD course against the experiences gained from running a traditional GSE course.

Evaluating GSD-Aware: A Serious Game for Discovering Global Software Development Challenges

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 19:00
Aurora Vizcaíno, Félix García, Ignacio García Rodriguez De Guzmán, M. Ángeles Moraga

Global Software Development (GSD) is currently a strong industry trend. This means that if computer science engineers are to be trained to deal with this model, it is very important to include the topic in software engineering courses, attempting to ensure that students learn about GSD and become familiar with its advantages and challenges. However, software engineering courses do not always consider including it in their curricula. It must also be recognized that it is difficult to find a suitable method to teach/develop the different skills needed for GSD. There is often a lot of content and not a great deal of time available to teach it.

Building LEGO Towers: An Exercise for Teaching the Challenges of Global Work

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 19:00
Aivars Šāblis, Javier Gonzalez-Huerta, Ehsan Zabardast, Darja Šmite

Global software engineering has changed the way software is developed today. To address the new challenges, many universities have launched specially tailored courses to train young professionals to work in globally distributed projects. However, a mere acknowledgment of the geographic, temporal, and cultural differences does not necessarily lead to a deep understanding of the underlying practical implications. Therefore, many universities developed alternative teaching and learning activities, such as multi-university collaborative projects and small-scale simulations or games. In this article, we present a small-scale exercise that uses LEGO bricks to teach skills necessary for global work. We describe the many different interventions that could be implemented in the execution of the exercise.

“How Else Should It Work?” A Grounded Theory of Pre-College Students’ Understanding of Computing Devices

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 19:00
Michael T. Rücker, Niels Pinkwart

In order to understand and evaluate computing technology in their environment, students first need to be able to identify it. This task becomes increasingly difficult, however, as computing systems become more and more ubiquitous and invisible. Based on the analysis of semi-structured focus interviews with 28 German pre-college students, we present a grounded theory of their conceptions and reasoning related to the identification of computing within technical devices. At its core is the finding that many students seemed to differentiate technical artifacts with respect to three conceived levels of capability. Many household appliances, for instance, were very well seen as electronic and programmed, but still as too limited in their capability to warrant the presence of a “real” computer or to be related to informatics.

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