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.
The first icebreaker asks students to stand whenever a statement applies to them. You begin with easy questions (e.g., “I am a freshman”) and proceed to more difficult ones (e.g., their previous experience in computer science). The second activity asks students to engage in a creative problem solving task that helps model how to break a larger problem down into its component steps and how to find help to complete an unfamiliar task. The slides conclude with material that is aimed at letting students know how to be success in my class. The main points outlined here and reiterated throughout the semester are (1) it's ok if you don't know how to do a problem - try breaking it down into smaller steps, (2) there are lots of ways to get help, (3) you need to practice to get good at programming, and (4) mistakes are good!
See attached Implementation Paper for more information.
These activities help students make social connections with faculty and with fellow students, and encourages the growth of an inclusive student community. This activity also helps build student confidence and professional identity by giving effective encouragement. This includes communicating that making mistakes is part of the learning process and reinforcing the idea that practice and persistence in computing is what makes a difference. In the process, it helps address some of students' misconceptions about computing.
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Computer Science Details