Fostering Practical Developers in Computer Science Classrooms: A PBL Approach

Fostering Practical Developers in Computer Science Classrooms: A PBL Approach

Yin Zhang (Northeastern University, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9961-6.ch003

Abstract

Real-life software development requires practical developers. This chapter discusses the challenges put by real-life software development on computer science education of modern universities, and how to face these challenges by changing traditional teaching and learning to a PBL-based approach. Based on a literature review on PBL theories, methods and tools, and observations made in classrooms and group rooms at Aalborg University, this chapter discusses possible aspects to consider when changing traditional computer science classrooms. A case is then used to demonstrate the process of changing traditional teaching and learning of a computer science course named Visual Programming and Applications to a PBL-based approach.
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Challenges In Teaching And Learning Of Traditional Computer Science Courses

A bunch of challenges could be identified in the teaching and learning of traditional Computer Science courses, from perspectives of teaching visions and school policies on education.

For challenges related to teaching visions, a question that bothers teachers could be: What exactly is “ability”. Many descriptions are used to define abilities. For example, “being able to program” may be an ambiguous description of ability, as “being able to program a ‘for’ loop” could be a more specific requirement toward ability. On a broader level, “being able to program according to some coding conventions”, “being able to program in an Object-Oriented way”, “being able to program collaboratively using GitHub”, “being able to program in a team” are all descriptions for abilities. These abilities are different from one another, for some abilities are not even in the same conceptual layer and demonstrated in very different fields.

Meanwhile, some of these abilities are closely related. One example is “being able to program according to some coding conventions”, which is very important to “being able to program in a team” in the condition that each team member should easily understand codes from others. The word “ability”, therefore, enunciates general meanings. One challenge for teachers is to clarify and understand what the “ability” is, and what are the differences between different abilities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Assessment for Learning: Assessment activities that are designed to provide feedbacks to improve learning.

Teaching Vision: A thought formed by imaging the results of teaching.

Learning Goal: An end to which learning effort is directed.

Learning Activity: A recreation of organized learning.

Assessment of Learning: Assessment activities that are designed to assess the end results of learning.

Transferable Skills: Skills that can be applied to different professional domains.

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