Interacting with faculty and teaching assistants, both in and outside of the classroom, is a powerful way to give students encouragement, to impart tacit professional knowledge, and to help students begin to see themselves as computer scientists. These interactions can take place in class or in lab, during office hours, or in other settings, and are important for sustaining student interest in computing.

Some suggestions

Learn names. Make an effort to learn your students' names and use their names in class and lab, and when you see them outside of class.

Use “we.” Use inclusive terms, such as "we," and informal language to create a sense of a shared community, with you as a member. Try using questions rather than commands to invite participation, e.g., “We know it’s important to test, so how will we do this?”

Advise in class. Take opportunities in your classes to provide career and academic advice to students. You may influence students who weren’t thinking of majoring in computing to consider it.

Mentor undergraduates. Involve undergraduates in research, encourage them to attend conferences and research talks, and provide guidance on finding and navigating internships. Reach out to and encourage women and minority students in all of these things.

Make office hours easy. This can be as simple as making sure all students can find your office and are incentivized to do so. One community college professor ensures students know where her office is by requiring them to sign their name on her door in the first weeks of class.  You might also try holding office hours in places where students tend to hang out, e.g., the student union, a student lounge or lab.

Examples from the collection

Air Quality Index Calculator

In this project, students make a calculator that determines the Air Quality Index (AQI) given user-input sensor data. All calculations follow methods published by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and give students practice handling user input, rounding/truncating, calculating the max and min, and must handle a a simple calculation that requires either a look-up table or conditionals. This assignment can be given early in the semester to help students gain experience and proficiency with loops, calculating max/min, using conditionals and boolean expressions. 

It can also be used--with some modifications--at many points in the curriculum to explore more complex data structures (2d arrays or dicts), to practice function decomposition, or even object-oriented programming. I have successfully used the assignment twice in one semester, letting students return to the assignment later to see how much simpler the solution becomes when they are able to use functions and complex data structures. See the "redux" files attached here.

Engagement Excellence

Image Processing (Warhol Pop Art Filter)

This is the eighth lab for computational art (CS1) using Processing where students practice creating an Andy Warhol silkscreen image filter. The goals for this lab are:

  1. Practice creating an Andy Warhol silkscreen image filter
  2. Practice using images in Processing
  3. Practice manipulating pixels of an image
  4. Practice using arrays and writing for loops
  5. Practice indexing a 1D ray with 2D coordinates
  6. Practice using boolean logic to control which parts of an image are modified (including implicit circles) 
Engagement Excellence

Resources

Introduction to Java

This classroom activity uses Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) to introduce students to Java. Students work in small teams to answer a series of questions about variables and assignment. The instructor facilitates interaction among teams, offers guidance and encouragement, and summarizes key concepts.

Learning Objectives:
* Identify components of the "hello world" program.
* Write Java code to declare int and double variables.
* Explain what it means to assign a value to a variable.
* Leverage the prior knowledge and experience of others.

Conditions and Logic - Python

This classroom activity uses Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) to introduce students to Python. Students work in small teams to answer a series of questions. They run examples in a Python Shell and discuss the results. The instructor facilitates interaction among teams, offers guidance and encouragement, and summarizes key concepts.

Learning Objectives:
* Evaluate boolean expressions with comparison operators (<, >, <=, >=, ==, !=).
* Explain the syntax and meaning of if/else statements and indented blocks.
* Evaluate boolean expressions that involve comparisons with and, or, and not.
* Evaluate complex logic expressions based on operator precedence.

Introduction to Python

This classroom activity uses Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) to introduce students to Python. Students work in small teams to answer a series of questions. They run examples in a Python Shell and discuss the results. The instructor facilitates interaction among teams, offers guidance and encouragement, and summarizes key concepts.

Learning Objectives:
* Describe differences between program and output text.
* Identify and execute Python functions for input/output.
* Write assignment statements and use assigned variables.
* Leverage the prior knowledge and experience of others.

Air Quality Index Calculator

In this project, students make a calculator that determines the Air Quality Index (AQI) given user-input sensor data. All calculations follow methods published by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and give students practice handling user input, rounding/truncating, calculating the max and min, and must handle a a simple calculation that requires either a look-up table or conditionals. This assignment can be given early in the semester to help students gain experience and proficiency with loops, calculating max/min, using conditionals and boolean expressions. 

It can also be used--with some modifications--at many points in the curriculum to explore more complex data structures (2d arrays or dicts), to practice function decomposition, or even object-oriented programming. I have successfully used the assignment twice in one semester, letting students return to the assignment later to see how much simpler the solution becomes when they are able to use functions and complex data structures. See the "redux" files attached here.

Engagement Excellence

CS2 Syllabus

The CS2 course introduces object-oriented programming, data structures, and more sophisticated algorithms than in CS 171 (Computer Science I) which is a prerequisite for this course. You are not expected to have any prior experience with Java. In terms of the ACM’s Computer Science Curriculum 2013, this course addresses the following knowledge areas: • Algorithms and Complexity (AL) • Discrete Structures (DS) • Programming Languages (PL) • Software Development Fundamentals (SDF) • Software Engineering (SE)

This course is a required intro-level course for two of the three Lewis & Clark CS departmental majors: Computer Science and Computer Science and Mathematics.

POGIL: Internet III - Addresses

This is a team-based classroom activity designed for Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL). Teams of 3-4 students work together to learn about how addresses on the internet works by comparing the IP addresses on the internet to SSNs for people and domain names to postal addresses and more. This is part three of a three-part series on POGIL Internet. Click to review the preceding lessons (Internet I, Internet II)

The attached files are the student versions of Internet III. Please contact the author (Clif Kussmaul, clif@kussmaul.org) for teacher versions with solutions and additional information. Also see instructor information in the activity.

Engagement Excellence

POGIL: Internet II - Data

This is a team-based classroom activity designed for Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL). Teams of 3-4 students work together to learn about how data moves on the internet by comparing it to vehicles on a highway system. The also explore the concept of Net Neutrality. This is part two of a three-part series of POGIL exercises on the Internet. Click to review the preceding (Internet I) and and subsequent (Internet III) assignments.

The attached files are the student versions of Internet II. Please contact the author (Clif Kussmaul, clif@kussmaul.org) for teacher versions with solutions and additional information. Also see instructor information in the activity.

POGIL: Search II - Web Search

This is a team-based classroom activity designed for Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL). Teams of 3-4 students work together to learn how search engines work and interface with the internet, and how to use search engines more effectively. 

This is part two of a two-part series on POGIL Search. Part I can be found here. The attached file is the student version of the activity. Please contact the author (Clif Kussmaul, clif@kussmaul.org) for the teacher versions with solutions and additional information.

Ice Breaker - Paper Airplanes

This is an ice-breaker activity you can use early in a course to help students get to know each other in a low risk, fun way.

How to Do It: Students are given templates and instructions on how to build a simple paper airplane. Before making their plane, each student writes on their paper three things about themselves that they are willing to share. It's fun to encourage them to share creative or unexpected things.

They then send their plane off into the classroom, picking up others' planes and flying them. Don't be afraid to let pandemonium reign for a while! Then, have each student pick up a plane that is not their own. The goal, then, is for everyone to find the creator of the plane by introducing themselves to successive individuals, asking only questions pertaining to what's written on the plane. Once everyone has found their plane's creator, have students form a circle. The first person introduces the creator of their plane (their name and the 3 things). Then, that person introduces the creator of their plane, and so on until everyone has been introduced. 

POGIL: Internet I - Structure

This is a team-based classroom activity designed for Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL). Teams of 3-4 students work together to learn about the Internet’s structure by comparing it to a city and abstracting it to graphs, comparing highways and streets to demonstrate bandwidth, and explaining what ISPs are. This is part one of a three part series on POGIL Internet. The subsequent lessons can be found here: Internet II and Internet III.

The attached files are the student versions of Internet I. Please contact the author (Clif Kussmaul, clif@kussmaul.org) for the teacher versions with solutions and additional information.

Engagement Excellence
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