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Mini-Projects Development in Computer Science – Students’ Use of Organization Tools 317

The Type D teams followed the six-stage model only to a very minor extent. They displayed a development process that was highly unstructured and based primarily on trial and error. The teams displayed no organizing principles throughout much of the development process. Instead, the computer served as their primary tool in developing and organizing the program.

4. Conclusion

Table 2 illustrates the categorization of the four types of project development teams.

We found that each team employed some organizing tool in developing their project. Half of the teams (types A and B) employed abstract data types in one form or another. The use of abstract data types clearly simplified the development and contributed to a systematic structured process. Type A teams who used the predefined list ADT black box to formalize problem-predicates, developed their projects in an organized and struc- tured manner. These teams postponed the use of the computer until the final stages of the project’s development.

Type B teams that utilized ADTs to present their problems, but did not use predefined ADT black boxes and instead created black boxes of their own, also worked in a struc- tured and organized manner. Some teams had difficulties in creating the black boxes, but this did not interfere with the systematic development process. These teams started to use the computer at an earlier stage than the Type A teams; since they wanted to test the black boxes they created.

Half of the teams (Type C and D) did not employ abstract data types in any form, and worked in a less structured way than the teams that used ADTs. Those teams seemed to use another tool to organize their development processes. Type C teams that defined the project’s goals, and chose problem-predicates in the early stages of the process, worked in a more structured way than the Type D teams that did not bother to define goals at all. Eventually Type C teams used the definition of the goals and the relationship between

Table 2 Categorization of the project development processes

Type A

Type B

Type C

Type D

(3 teams)

(3 teams)

(4 teams)

(3 teams)

Use of Abstract Data Types

No Use of Abstract Data Types



ADT black boxes

ADT black boxes

Use of the computer at

Use of the compu

ter at

a very late stage

an early stage

Structured process

Structured process

Definition of goals

Trial and error

Use of the computer at a late stage

Intensive use of the computer from the beginning

Mostly structured process

Unstructured process

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