2005 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Showcase

2:30-5:00 p.m., April 19, 2005
Mary Gates Commons

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2:30 Posters | 2:30 Roundables | 4:00 Posters | 4:00 Roundtables

Learning Environments Outside the Lecture Course

Donald Chinn, UW Tacoma Computing and Software Systems

In the CSS program, we have discovered that many students drop out of the program after taking some of the early courses in our degree program. Also, a significant number of students are not as well-prepared for the later courses in the CSS program as we expected them to be, even after taking the introductory courses in our program. We suspected that because of the nature of UW Tacoma as a commuter campus, many students were not studying out of class in the ways that "successful" students – students who excelled – were studying. Specifically, we believe students were not practicing their problem solving skills and explaining their work to others.

Each lecture section contains at most 30 students. We have created a series of one-credit seminars associated with early CSS courses to help students practice these skills by working in small groups on problems in a seminar setting. These problem solving sessions are under the supervision of a facilitator, an advanced undergraduate student, who creates the problems the students work on and guides the students in their problem solving activities. Thus far, the seminars consist of anywhere between 6 and 12 students.

This seminar (or workshop as it is sometimes called) structure is based on the work of Uri Treisman of UC Berkeley (and now UT Austin) and the calculus reform movement. Treisman’s model has been replicated in science and engineering programs all across the country, although its use in computer science is relatively rare. We have modified in ways tailored to our environment at UW Tacoma. Our plans for assessing the overall success of our work is to examine both the short-term effects (grades, retention rates, engagement) as well as long-term effects (grades, retention rates, awareness of the student’s own learning) of the workshops.

Roundtable Discussion, 4:00-5:00 p.m.