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|A1||X||Tabulate the midterms and print out results (TeachingWork)|
As the field of Computer Science has grown, the syllabus of the introductory Computer Science course has changed significantly. No longer is it a simple introduction to programming or a tutorial on computer concepts and applications. Rather, it has become a survey of the field of Computer Science, touching on a wide variety of topics from digital circuits to human- computer interaction.
Without sufficient resources, students can be overwhelmed by this broad range of topics. With sufficient resources and an interface to tame the potential flood of resources, they can better comprehend the class topics. Resources that benefit students include
- the course guide; - an extensive, well-linked, syllabus; - blackboards, transcriptions, and instructor's notes from each class; - more in-depth notes on topics prepared by students; and - questions and tips from other students (with answers and further comments from the instructor).
This paper describes the design and creation of such a web of resources "on the fly," while the course is being taught. The design and creation of this web touches on many issues, including mechanisms for convincing students to use the web; the balance between online hypertext and printed documents; problems and benefits of live update (the collection of resources changes frequently, as each class period generates new resources); the roles of audio and video; and, most importantly, student reactions.
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- A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary. (Thomas Carruthers) - The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. In our system, she must become a passive, much more than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of anxious scientific curiosity and of absolute respect for the phenomenon which she wishes to observe. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon. (Maria Montessori) - We must view young people not as empty bottles to be filled, but as candles to be lit. (Robert H. Shaffer)
The teachers' instructional practices were more heterogeneous after they had collaborated with us for 2 years. Differences were apparent in the extent to which the teachers expected students' to justify their reasoning, posed questions to understand stu- dents' solution processes, expected students to listen to and make judgments about others' explanations, and encouraged multiple solutions. All but one of the teachers had previously used the tra- ditional textbook series as the primary basis for their instruction. Three now relied primarily on the reform textbook series and the other three used the two series in combination. It was also no- ticeable that only two of the teachers continued to use textbooks as blueprints for instruction. The remaining four teachers mod- ified and adapted textbook lessons based on their understanding of their students' reasoning. Despite these differences, we were able to identify some general patterns in their teaching. For ex- ample, there was an overall shift away from demonstrating pro- cedures and toward leading whole class discussions that focused on students' solutions.
Alan L. Tharp
Much attention has been given to the content of introdutory computer science courses, but based on a perusal of introductory textbooks, it appears that somewhat less attention has been given to the programming exercises to be used in these courses. Programming exercises can be modified to provide a better educational experience for the student. An examlpe of how atypical programming exercises were incorporated into an introductory programming language course is described.