Removing Lectures from a Computer Programming Class - A Quantitative Study

Removing Lectures from a Computer Programming Class - A Quantitative Study

C. Larsen, S. Gross, A. Bærentzen (2015).  Removing Lectures from a Computer Programming Class - A Quantitative Study. 10.

Computer programming is a discipline that is becoming increasingly important to today’s engineering practice and society overall, and it is used extensively and intensively in several fields. Examples can be found in mechanical, civil, or chemical engineering, and many other areas.

As such, it is common that higher education institutions teach at least one course on the topic in almost every engineering degree program in order to familiarize their students with basic programming concepts. This means that programming is taught to a variety of engineering students with significantly different backgrounds and expectations.

Consequently, it is important that all students - in particular those that had less prior exposure to computational methods and programming in their past – get sufficient time to build experience with their programming tools.

Lectures are often the standard teaching method of choice when designing a course structure. This also applies to programming classes. Two main reasons for this are the effectiveness of informing a large group of students in a very short time and the efficiency of doing so while involving only a single teacher.

However, we believe that programming is much better taught and learned by a ''hands-on'' approach. Therefore, we argue that lectures can be safely removed from programming courses in favor of extended exercise sessions where teaching assistants circulate and interact with the students individually when needed. This gives students additional time to build up experience with their entire programming environment consisting of the programming language, interface, and associated tools.

We support our argument by a discussion of both quantitative and qualitative metrics drawn from programming course evaluations. These were gathered in classes following our suggested model with distinctive variations such as block classes over a series of semesters. We conclude from the observed data that removing lectures from the course not only resulted in increased overall student satisfaction, but also bolstered the learning outcome.

Proceedings of the 11th International CDIO Conference, Chengdu, China, June 8-11 2015

Authors (New): 
Christian Thode Larsen
Sebastian Gross
J. Andreas Bærentzen
Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
Danish Research Center for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR), Denmark
MathWorks GmbH, Germany
CDIO Standard 2
CDIO Standard 5
CDIO Standard 8
CDIO Standard 11
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