Paper: Problem-based learning for foundation computer science courses

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The foundation courses in computer science pose
particular challenges for teacher and learner alike. This paper
describes some of these challenges and how we have designed
problem-based learning (PBL) courses to address them. We discuss the
particular problems we were keen to overcome: the purely technical
focus of many courses; the problems of individual learning and the
need to establish foundations in a range of areas which are important
for computer science graduates. We then outline our course design,
showing how we have created problem-based learning courses.

The paper reports our evaluation of the approach. This has two parts:
assessment of a trial, with a three-year longitudinal follow-up of the
students; reports of student learning improve-ment after we had become
experienced in full implementation of PBL.

We conclude with a summary of our experience over three years of PBL
teaching and discuss some of the pragmatic issues around introducing
the radical change in teaching, maintaining staff support, and
continuing refinement of our PBL teaching. We also discuss some of our
approaches to the commonly acknowledged challenges of PBL

Hmmm. Problem-based learning is about working on large, real-world
problems, not just the toy exercises we do in class. Must check out
footnote 4. Teacher as facilitator – precisely! I like the focus on
problem-solving skills. Hey, they use Blue too. I so agree with these
objectives. I like how the students plan their study and choose the
exercises. I want to learn how to do research like this.

Footnote 4: D. Boud and G. Feletti. The Challenge of Problem Based
Learning. Kogan Page, 1991.

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