Blended Teaching and Learning of Computer Programming Skills in Engineering Curricula

ABSTRACT

Many engineering schools include computer programming as part of a first-year course taught to large engineering classes. This approach is effective in rationalizing resources and improving the cost-effectiveness of course delivery. In addition, it can lead to wholesale improvements in teaching and learning. However, class sizes and the variety of student backgrounds can lead to difficulties in achieving learning outcomes. Flexible learning has been shown to be potentially effective in addressing such issues. We describe the design and development of a WebCT-based self-practice online tool (SPOT) to support student learning of programming. The tool is divided into three components: a) programming syntax, b) understanding the way computer programs work and c) writing computer programs. We discuss the integration of the tool into the learning flow and its role in assessment. We present qualitative and quantitative data on student reactions to the tool and its usefulness in achieving learning outcomes cost-effectively.

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ABBAS EL-ZEIN
School of Civil Engineering
University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

TIM LANGRISH
School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

NIGEL BALAAM
School of Civil Engineering
University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

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