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Informatics in Education, 2005, Vol. 4, No. 2, 307–319

  • 2005 Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, ilnius

307

Mini-Projects Development in Computer Science – Students’ Use of Organization Tools

Zahava SCHERZ

Department of Science Teaching, Weizmann Institute of Science Rehovot 76100, Israel e-mail: zahava.scherz@weizmann.ac.il

Bruria HABERMAN

Department of Computer Science, Holon Academic Institute of Technology Department of Science Teaching, Weizmann Institute of Science Rehovot 76100, Israel e-mail: bruria.haberman@weizmann.ac.il

Received: 09 2005

Abstract. This paper describes a study aimed at identifying different profiles of students’ project development processes. Specifically, we assessed the use of abstract data types for the development of knowledge-based projects.

The concept of abstract data types was introduced to high school students who took the course “Computer Science-Logic Programming”. During their studies the students learned and practiced various tools and methods of project development, one of which was based on the use of abstract data types as tools for problem solving and knowledge representation.

To this end, a one-day workshop for team development of mini-projects was organized, and the whole development process was audio and video documented, categorized and analyzed. The pro- files of team behavior in the project development process were specified. The analysis of the profiles resulted in identifying four types of project development teams, all of which employed some or- ganizing tool in developing their projects. Two types of the developing teams used abstract data types and two used other methods. The findings indicated that the process of project development of those who used abstract data types was more structured and more organized than others.

Key words: abstract data types, mini-projects in computer science, project organization tools, logic programming in education.

1. Introduction

A new curriculum in Computer Science (CS) that combines both conceptual and practical issues has been implemented since 1990 in Israeli high schools. One specific goal of the curriculum is to provide the students tools that will enable them to understand the functionality of computer systems and the process of software design (Gal–Ezer et al., 1995; Gal–Ezer and Harel, 1999). This goal can be achieved by incorporating project work into the curriculum (Gal–Ezer et al., 1995; Fincher et al., 2001). The academic CS

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