The Effectiveness of Innovative Approaches to CS1: Comparing Opinion to Outcome

Allert, J.D.

    Handheld computers (Pocket PCs) have been required of all entering CS majors at the University of Minnesota Duluth, since fall semester 2001. To enhance their utilization, customized learning software was created for the devices and integrated into the curriculum through inclass exercises. Student opinion surveys consistently indicated that these hardware and software innovations contributed more toward learning than any other aspect of the course, while lectures were among the least highly regarded learning tools. Examination of student performance data however indicated that highly valuing lectures and high achievement were closely correlated. Other findings suggest that handheld users found interaction with teaching assistants and tutors relatively unimportant. This raises several important issues including how innovative approaches to CS1 might elevate both student performance and opinion, and how innovation and tradition can be made to complement each other in the curriculum.
Cite as: Allert, J.D. (2004). The Effectiveness of Innovative Approaches to CS1: Comparing Opinion to Outcome. In Proc. Twenty-Seventh Australasian Computer Science Conference (ACSC2004), Dunedin, New Zealand. CRPIT, 26. Estivill-Castro, V., Ed. ACS. 151-157.
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