Curriculum Development Efforts

Adding Visual Aids to CMSE 201

Folks Involved: E. Bolger (lead), D. Silvia

For her Mentored Teaching Project as a part of the Certificate of College Teaching, Emily integrated visual aids in the CMSE 201 course materials to help students strengthen their understanding of coding practices like lists, data frames, and two-dimensional arrays, particularly in relation to indexing with those tools. The purpose of the visual aids was to help students conceptualize the structure of the object as well as walk through examples that showed information retrieval from these objects. We also embedded guided questions for students to practice explaining their coding choices and implementations. Specifically, we were looking to study how students think about and explain code using descriptive language to their instructors, fellow coding classmates, and non-coders. To assess the modifications implemented in the CMSE 201 curriculum, we used three methods: bi-semesterly survey, in-class student observations, and class assignment observations. While we struggled to encourage students to respond to the written critical thinking questions, we noticed that the students asked more targeted, thoughtful questions and referred to the visual aids frequently throughout the course.