To help build inclusive student community, faculty can provide opportunities for students to interact with each other both in and outside of class. This is different from collaborative learning in that the primary goal is helping students make social connections rather than directly impacting learning. This can encourage the growth of peer-support networks and a student-centered learning community. Students who have a community related to their academic pursuits are more likely to persist.

Some suggestions

Break the ice. Use icebreakers to help students get to know each other. But be careful in the choice of activities. The goal is for students to see what they have in common. But some questions--e.g., those that draw out gender, race/ethnic, or class differences--can produce division rather than community.

Facilitate out-of-class connections. Help students connect with their peers outside of class by creating opportunities for them to discuss and meet. For example, facilitate the creation of study groups or special interest groups, and host fun, inclusive social events.

Teach professional behavior. Many students need explicit training on what it means act professionally. Build professionalism into your student culture by teaching students to treat each other with respect, how to disagree productively, and to value diversity.

Examples from the collection

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.

Day One Ice Breakers

This a set of "icebreaker" activities are used on the first day of an introductory programming class to help create a welcoming learning environment for students and to lay the groundwork for discussions about how to be successful in Introductory Computing. I have included student-facing slides, a sign-in handout, and a short paper with tips for implementing these activities.

Resources

Fitness Tracking Lab

In this lab, students track their own fitness activities for a week. They submit this data which becomes some of the test data for the lab. Based on the students' activities, the program computes the number of equivalent miles each student has walked and the total number of miles walked by everyone together. Output is sorted from most miles walked to least miles walked. 

This is a lab for late in the semester of a CS 1 course. It requires students to use text files and an array of structures.

Learning objectives:

A Tournament for Pong AI Engines

In this 2018 Nifty assignment, students write an AI engine for the game of Pong. Pong is a game enjoyed by people in general, by the CS1 community in particular, and by pigeons. In this open-ended assignment, students write an AI engine for Pong from scratch. Students can have their AI engines play against each other, and participate in a class-wide tournament.

Computational Creativity Exercise (CCE): Marble Maze I

In this assignment students work as a team to build, using only specified materials, a structure through which a marble will travel,  Students first work independently developing their own segment of the structure and then work collaboratively to construct a final structure. Students are required to video tape the execution of a marble traveling through the structure lasting at least n seconds. This exercise will allow students to practice problem decomposition, abstraction, generalization, and evaluation, and also debugging and testing.

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.

Voters Lab

This lab involves students coming up with a poll on a subject in which they are interested; administering the poll to students, faculty and staff on campus; and writing a program to calculate and manipulate poll results. The example provided uses a poll based upon the 2016 US presidential election, although any poll data will do. One goal of this lab is for students to learn how to use arrays of structures. Another is for students to create a program that uses most of the concepts covered in CS1 as a culminating project. Students may work individually or in pairs.

Intro to CS: Arduino Pumpkin Project

This lab is done in a course that teaches the basics of computational problem solving by exposing students to the building blocks of programming: variables, looping, branching, functions, arrays, etc. The goals of this assignment are (1) to reinforce CS concepts from class and (2) to introduce students to basic hardware components. Using an Arduino clone kit and ultrasonic sensor, students work together to build a pumpkin that flashes LED(s) and makes noise. This project is done in fall semester and is timed to align with Halloween. 

Day One Ice Breakers

This a set of "icebreaker" activities are used on the first day of an introductory programming class to help create a welcoming learning environment for students and to lay the groundwork for discussions about how to be successful in Introductory Computing. I have included student-facing slides, a sign-in handout, and a short paper with tips for implementing these activities.

Shut the Box

In this lab, students dissect a working implementation of the Shut the Box dice game using process oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL). Learning objectives include declaring and creating arrays and accessing their elements, using and explaining the parts of for loops, and working effectively as a team. This lab allows students to read an existing program rather than creating one from scratch.

Engagement Excellence

TEACHING PAPER: Computing and the Digital Humanities

This paper introduces three assignments—each with their own “starter kits” for students—for those with a love of the written (and digital) word. These assignments are part of a ‘Computing for Poets’ course that exposes students to leading markup languages (HTML, CSS, XML) and teaches computer programming as a vehicle to explore and “data mine” digitized texts. Recent advances in computer software, hypertext, and database methodologies have made it possible to ask novel questions about a poem, a story, a trilogy, or an entire corpus.

Project 3 - Image Processing: Interactive Self-portrait

This is the third project for computational art (CS1) using Processing where students create a self portrait using a digital image of themselves as the starting point. In this project, students learn about 2D to 1D array mapping and indexing as well as practice using loops via the plotting of a shape using a parametric equation. The objectives for this project are:

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