Building Purposeful Online Learning: Outcomes from Blending CS1

Joyner, D. A. (2019). Building Purposeful Online Learning: Outcomes from Blending CS1. In Madden, A., Margulieux, L., Kadel, R., & Goel, A. (Eds.) Blended Learning in Practice. MIT Press.

Abstract: This chapter describes a blended learning class used to teach a large Computer Science 1 course that serves 1000 students per year and is a bottleneck course that limits how many students can enroll be accepted into computing majors. The course uses a MOOC to provide lectures, practice, and assignments. In addition, students could get help from three sources: recitation with teaching assistants, a help desk, or office hours with the instructor. The chapter discusses the production of the MOOC, which was designed to be adaptable to multiple types of intro computing courses for multiple majors. The design team also surveyed online Intro to Computer Science courses and share the best practices that they experienced.

This course is blended – at least for some students. Based on the MIX taxonomy, the required parts of the course are delivered entirely online. The online components include content delivery and content application with feedback through Vocareum and McGraw-Hill’s adaptive Smartbook. The optional parts of the class provide in-person content delivery and feedback during content application. During recitation, teaching assistants provided lectures and guidance on activities. For additional guidance on activities, the students could go to the help desk or the instructor’s office hours.

The research method is a quasi-experimental design. The two experimental groups, students who took the face-to-face class and students who took the blended class, took the class during the same semester. Student performance was measured through a standardized computer science assessment. Student perceptions, demographic information, and expectations for the course were measured through surveys.

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