CS education dissertations

At the University of Texas at Austin, Roger Louis Priebe earned a doctorate in Science Education in 1997 with a dissertation on The effects of cooperative learning on content comprehension and logical reasoning in a second-semester university computer science course. This is the abstract:

Attrition rates in the computer science major are quite
high. Many students who struggle through the first few courses
ultimately drop out of the major when the coursework becomes too
complex, mostly because of the increased amount of logic and
abstraction that the coursework requires.

This study compared content comprehension, logical reasoning ability,
and attendance in two groups of second-semester university computer
science students. In a quasi-experimental, pretest/posttest,
control-group design, the control group (n=25) received instruction in
a traditional lecture/discussion learning environment three days a
week for nine weeks. The treatment group (n=24) met in a cooperative
learning environment for the same number of hours as the control
group. Each group was given the pretest and posttest for the Burton
Comprehension Instrument (BCI) and a pretest and posttest for the
Propositional Logic Test (PLT) to measure levels of content
comprehension and logical reasoning ability. A head-count was taken
daily to determine if the cooperative learning environment might
promote better attendance.

The null hypotheses investigated in this study were. (1) There will be
no difference between the cooperative learning and control groups in
concept comprehension. (2) There will be no difference between the
cooperative learning and control groups in the improvement of logical
thinking skills. (3) There will be no difference between the
cooperative learning and control groups in attendance. The collected
data were analyzed by the use of Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA),
Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) with Repeated Measures, and
one-way ANOVA.

The results of the analysis revealed no difference between the
cooperative learning and lecture groups in the areas of content
comprehension or logical reasoning ability. However, the cooperative
learning group did have significantly better attendance (p<.03).

Further research is recommended in the use of cooperative learning in
university-level computer science courses. Of special interest is the
use of cooperative learning tactics in large lecture-based courses and
the effect of cooperative learning on gender equity in computer
science.

Copyright (c) 1997 by Roger Louis Priebe. Presentation of this
material by the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of
Texas at Austin was made possible under a limited license grant from
the author, who has retained all copyrights in the works.

I should look into doing research like this even now.

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