CSC News

October 20, 2016

DELTA Grants Help Fund Critical Course Redesign

Congratulations to the Dr. Sarah Heckman, teaching associate professor, and Dr. Jessica Schmidt, teaching assistant professor, on receiving additional funding from the NC State DELTA Grants for Course Redesign. 
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.
The additional funding for Heckman’s grant, “Incorporating a Laboratory to Support Student Learning of Software Engineering Best Practices in CSC216”, is valued at $10,000.
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 additional funding for Schmidt’s grant, “Critical Path Course Redesign:  CSC116:  Introduction to Computing-Java”, is valued at $16,111.
Abstract:  The goal of the project is to introduce more active learning in CSC116 through in-class exercises and lecture videos. We are also incorporating more real world examples into the course and discussing examples that show that computer science is not just programming. Over the past year, we have worked collaboratively with instructional designers and other DELTA personnel to provide the highest quality resources for students.  During AY 2016-2017, we will work to finalize the redesign of the course and begin assessment of data from past semesters. Spring 2017 students will use the finalized redesign.
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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