Open Ended Group Projects a 'Tool' for More Effective Teaching

Newman, I., Daniels, M. and Faulkner, X.

    Open Ended Group Projects [OEGP] offer an educational 'model', or tool, that has many benefits in terms of how and what students learn. This paper contains an explanation of the ideas that underlie OEGP and relates them to the concepts of problem based learning and educational constructivism. It shows how OEGPs can be used to encourage reflection on and application of the fundamental, subject specific, principles the students have learned and can contribute to the development of professional and 'social' skills which will be essential for their future careers. The holistic approach promoted by OEGP is argued to reduce the 'techie' flavor of CS education and thus help in attracting and keeping female students. The paper discusses the role of OEGP in increasing student motivation, reinforcing other educational approaches and allowing new 'fast breaking' topics to be explored in some depth without changing the curriculum. Finally the issue of fairly assessing group projects is considered with particular emphasis on the social skills aspects. The ideas are based on the experiences of the authors working in different institutions. They are illustrated using one course (IT in Society), which will be given for the fifth time this fall. This course is based on the idea that to make efficient use of Computer Science knowledge and skills in real life also requires the use of soft skills. Teachers from different disciplines supervise student groups solving real world problems with an emphasis on communication and group working and the application of acquired CS knowledge.
Cite as: Newman, I., Daniels, M. and Faulkner, X. (2003). Open Ended Group Projects a 'Tool' for More Effective Teaching. In Proc. Fifth Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE2003), Adelaide, Australia. CRPIT, 20. Greening, T. and Lister, R., Eds. ACS. 95-103.
pdf (from pdf (local if available) BibTeX EndNote GS