Mini-Projects Development in Computer Science – Students’ Use of Organization Tools 309
Did the project development follow the six-phase model?
The use of ADT: The goal was to assess students’ use of ADTs in developing their projects. Specifically, we asked the following questions:
In what stage of the development process did students find suitable ADTs to solve
the given problem?
Did students use ADT black boxes in the formalization stage?
How did the use of ADTs influence the entire project development process?
The use of practical tools: The goal was to specify the role of the computer versus the pencil-and-paper approach in developing projects. Specifically:
In what stages of the development process did the students use the computer?
What different styles of computer usage can be identified?
In what stages did the students use pencil-and-paper?
A workshop for team project development: A one-day (8 hours) workshop was con- ducted with a group of 35 students who studied a Computer Science – LP course. Thirteen teams of 2–5 students developed knowledge-based projects on a variety of subjects, all of which are related to descriptive topics of a qualitative nature (e.g., Biology, Medicine, Nu- trition, and Law). The workshop took place in a computer laboratory. Each team worked independently; therefore interaction between the teams was not possible.
The teams had to decide on a general topic for their project before the workshop and to bring relevant knowledge sources (literature, an interview with an expert, etc.).
A nearby school library provided the students with additional relevant literature dur- ing the workshop. At the beginning of the workshop the teams received written instruc- tions describing the project requirements. During the workshop the students had to spec- ify the problem and to formalize it in terms of a Prolog program (about 10 meaningful different rules). At the end of the workshop each team had to present a Prolog program along with a written final report describing the project and the team development process. One or two observers watched each team.
The workshop enabled us to follow closely all the development processes of several teams in parallel in a reasonable period of time. The teamwork required the students to discuss out loud their project development activities and therefore enabled us to record their reasoning, and conflicts and ideas throughout the process. This kind of recording is hard to achieve when students work individually.
2.3. Data Collection
Several tools were used to collect data and to document the team’s development pro- cesses:
Videotapes: Video cameras were used to videotape six randomly chosen teams. Audiotapes: All thirteen teams were audio taped.