Implementing Collaborative Learning in Computer Science Classes

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Implementing Collaborative Learning in Computer Science Classes

Return to Mohammad Hamza

Welcome to my mini-course! Please use this introductory page to explore the course and gain a brief understanding of what you can expect from participating in my course.

Overview and Purpose

This section provides the learner with an inviting and engaging introduction to the topic of your mini-course, specifies the target learner, and gives an overview of how this course works. The importance of the topic may be demonstrated through problem scenarios, storytelling, case analysis, statistics, etc.

Feel free to name and organize this section (and other sections) in a way that is most effective for your mini-course. For example, designers from the past sometimes set this section into two parts: Instruction, Course Overview (How This Course Works).

Needs Assessment

High school computer science classes might not be doing an adequate job in preparing computer science students for future careers in the field due to a lack of effective collaborative activities in these classes. As I have experienced in my own classroom, in the computer science classrooms of my peers as well as observations within other district schools, students are not gaining meaningful collaboration skills from their computer science classes. This creates a problem with these students being underprepared for careers (or further education in the field) relating to computer science where working with others is a key aspect of the job. These underprepared students will struggle to succeed in environments where they are expected to work in teams and produce results.

Performance Objectives

As a result of their participation in the course, participants will be able to:

1) Differentiate between effective and ineffective collaborative activities and strategies for beneficial outcomes in computer science classes.

2) Apply the knowledge gained from this mini-course to design and integrate collaborative activities and strategies in their own computer science classes.

3) Reflect on how their chosen or designed activities or strategies worked and if they can be improved to yield better results.

4) Understand that collaboration in computer science classes is necessary and requires strategic implementation to be most effective both short term and long term.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following modules. Click the title of a module to go to its page.

Module 1: What Does Effective Collaboration Look Like?

Analyze learning activities and/or experiences in computer science classes and determine whether or not they represent effective collaboration

  • Evaluate various activities in computer science (or similar content area classes)
  • Describe what effective collaboration looks like
  • Distinguish between good/bad collaboration

Module 2: Development of Lessons Which Include Collaboration

Develop lesson plans and/or ideas for collaboration activities/strategies in their computer science classes

  • Research and choose collaborative activities and strategies for use
  • Utilize and modify a lesson plan template to include collaboration in a computer science class

Module 3: Implementation of Collaborative Activities

Implement effective collaboration activities and strategies in their computer science classes

  • Decide when and how to actually use collaborative activities/strategies in their computer science class

Module 4: Reflecting on Our Implementation of Collaboration

Reflect on how their chosen or designed activities or strategies worked and if they can be improved to yield better results

  • After having used collaborative activities and/or strategies, complete a journaling activity(s) for reflection and self-evaluation
  • Create goals for improvement

Extended Resources

Applebee, A.N., Langer, J.A., Nystrand, M., & Gamoran, A. (2003). Discussion-Based Approaches to Developing Understanding: Classroom Instruction and Student Performance in Middle and High School English . American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 685-730.

Fall, R., Webb, N. & Chudowsky, N. (1997). Group Discussion and Large-Scale Language Arts Assessment: Effects on Students' Comprehension. American Educational Research Journal, 37(4), 911-942.

Foster, L. N, Krohn, K. R., McCleary, D. F., Aspiranti, K. B., Nalls, M., L., Quillivan, C. C., Taylor, C. M., & Williams, R. L. (2009). Increasing Low-Responding Students' Participation in Class Discussion. Journal of Behavioral Education, 18(2), 173-188.

Goldenberg, C. (1993). Instructional Conversations: Promoting Comprehension through Discussion. The Reading Teacher, 46(4), 316-326. Preview available here.

Johnson, D.W. & Johnson, R. T. (2009). An Educational Psychology Success Story: Social Interdependence Theory and Cooperative Learning . Educational Researcher, 38(5), 365-379.

Lou, Y., Abrami, P.C., Spence, J. C., Poulsen, C., Chambers, B., & d'Apollonia, S. (1996). Within-Class Grouping: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66(4), 423-458.

Marx, A., Fuhrer, U., & Hartig, T. (1999). Effects of Classroom Seating Arrangements on Children's Question-Asking. Learning Environments Research, 2(3), 249-263.

Murphy, P. K., Wilkinson, I. A. G., Soter, A.O., Hennessey, M. N., & Alexander, J. F. (2009). Examining the Effects of Classroom Discussion on Students' High-Level Comprehension of Text: A Meta-Analysis . Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), 740-764.

Prince, M. (2004). Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research . Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-231.

Rosenfield, P., Lambert, N.M., & Black, A. (1985). Desk Arrangement Effects on Pupil Classroom Behavior . Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(1), 101-108.

Smith, M. K., Wood, W. B., Adams, W. K., Wieman, C., Knight, J. K., Guild, N., et al. (2009). Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions. Science, 323(5910), 122-124.

Webb, N. M., Farivar, S. H., & Mastergeorge, A. M. (2002). Productive Helping in Cooperative Groups . Theory Into Practice, 41(1), 13-20.