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Reflection on teaching IT for non-computing students

Gibbs, SF
Anthony, Patricia
Charters, Stuart
Conference Contribution - published
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::08 Information and Computing Sciences , ANZSRC::130103 Higher Education , ANZSRC::44 Human society , ANZSRC::52 Psychology
This paper reflects on the first semester of teaching an introductory computing courses using a non-traditional approach. For several years’ the institution offered two computing courses, introduction to computing and introductory programming to first year students from a variety of degree programmes. In 2014, due to a qualification reform, a new computing course (computing fundamentals) was introduced as the only first year computing course. There were 55 students in this class of whom the majority (84%) were non-computing majors. To ensure that students are still getting the IT skill required for their degrees, we developed a curriculum that combines topics on data management and programming. We have taught this course for a semester. At the beginning of the semester, students were given a pre-course questionnaire which included self-rating of knowledge and also some skill questions related to the material to be covered in the new course. At the end of the semester, we compared the results from the skill questions with the results of the final examination. There was overall improvement in both spreadsheet and the programming knowledge. The final results indicated that students were more likely to struggle with the programming component than they were the spreadsheet component. The average final mark for the spreadsheet component was 70% whereas the average final mark for the programming was only 16%. Students failed to make a connection between these two areas and did not relate the creation of complex spreadsheet formula to writing simple expressions in a programming environment. Although, our study indicated that students were struggling with the programming, they seemed to be more receptive to learning programming using an interactive environment rather than the traditional code writing environment.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
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