CSC News

October 06, 2015

Heckman, Schmidt to Use DELTA Grants for Course Redesign

Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Heckman, teaching associate professor, and Dr. Jessica Schmidt, teaching assistant professor, on receiving NC State DELTA Grants for Course Redesign.  They will be making improvements to two Critical Path computer science courses, CSC116 and CSC216.
Course Redesign (CR) is an initiative to rethink and rebuild the delivery of large-enrollment, introductory courses.  The goals of CR are to improve learning outcomes and to accommodate current and projected enrollment growth by leveraging instructional technology and implementing best practices in instructional pedagogy.  These are often courses that have large sections (e.g., traditional lecture format) or large numbers of small sections.
Heckman’s grant, “Incorporating a Laboratory to Support Student Learning of Software Engineering Best Practices in CSC216”, is valued at $18,965.
Abstract:  CSC216: Programming Concepts – Java is a second semester, required course for Computer Science (CSC) majors and minors, which serves 150-250 students every semester.  Students struggle with the course materials for three reasons: 1) students are coming from a prerequisite course taught in an integrated lecture lab with at most 33 students and move into large lectures sections with less TA support, 2) the course topics ramp up quickly and students need more resources to support effective and deep learning of the material and 3) feedback from the automated grading system may not lead directly to underlying student mistakes. The goal of our project is to create a laboratory component in CSC216, with supporting instructional materials and improved automated feedback on project progress and software engineering best practices, to increase students learning, engagement, and first attempt completion without reducing the rigor of the course. This project complements the Peer Teaching Fellows program to address all three areas where we see students struggling in CSC216. We will work collaboratively with instructional designers and other DELTA personnel to provide the highest quality resources for students and plan the introduction of lab sections to CSC216 in Fall 2016.

The grant will be used to support PI Heckman, other CSC216 instructors, and a student worker during the 2015-2016 academic year in the development of resources to support the creation of the lab sections and improvement of the automated feedback systems.
Schmidt’s grant, “Critical Path Course Redesign:  CSC116:  Introduction to Computing-Java”, is valued at $18,778.
Abstract:  CSC116 is a critical path course for the Computer Science (CSC) major; it is the first CSC course that CSC majors are required to take. The distance section of the course is offered through Engineering Online (EOL); CSC116 is the first required CSC course for EOL’s Computer Programming Certificate. There are several challenges with the course, including high DFUW rates, not having as much active learning during class time as we would like, and restraints of time in the classroom. The goal of the project is to introduce more active learning in the class through in-class exercises and lecture videos. We will also incorporate more real world examples into the course and discuss examples that show that computer science is not just programming. We will work collaboratively with instructional designers and other DELTA personnel to provide the highest quality resources for students.
The grant will be used to support PI Schmidt, other CSC116 instructors, and a student worker during the 2015-2016 academic year in the development of resources to support the creation of more active learning activities and the purchase of visual example supplies.
Note: PI Heckman and PI Schmidt will also work together to ensure that the changes in both CSC116 and CSC216 support students in both courses and better prepare them for the rest of the computer science major and future careers as computer scientists and software engineers.
For more information on the DELTA Grants for Course Redesign, click here.
A related story with a list of all DELTA Grant recipients can be found here.

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