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Type: Journal article
Title: Developing authentic problem solving skills in introductory computing classes
Author: Falkner, K.
Palmer, E.
Citation: Sigcse Bulletin, 2009; 41(1):4-8
Publisher: Association for Computing Machinery
Issue Date: 2009
ISSN: 0097-8418
Statement of
Katrina Falkner, Edward Palmer
Abstract: The ability to solve problems is the key to developing software, and it is an ability that can be difficult to learn. Introductory Computer Science students are often taught syntax and semantics, along with simple problems designed to develop logical, structured thinking, but authentic problem-solving skills are rarely developed at these early stages. In this paper we describe an approach to introductory computer science education that addresses student engagement through integrating cooperative learning techniques and authentic problem solving processes throughout each aspect of the curriculum. Over a period of 4 years, the introductory computer science course at the University of Adelaide has been modified to support a cooperative learning style. A three-stage methodology has been implemented in place of traditional lectures to achieve this. The process focuses on observing the application of programming techniques, observing problem solving techniques and then applying cooperative problem solving exercises in the classroom. The results from this change in teaching methodology have been an increase in attendance rates at lectures and practical sessions as well as improved learning outcomes as measured by exam results. Student experience surveys show students have greater motivation for learning and believe they have a better understanding of concepts since the changes have occurred.
Keywords: Problem solving; cooperative learning; engagement; introductory Computer Science education
Description: Also cited as: Proceedings of the 40th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2009, Chattanooga, TN, USA, March 4-7, 2009: pp.4-8
Rights: Copyright 2009 ACM
DOI: 10.1145/1539024.1508871
Published version:
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 7
Computer Science publications

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