Intro CS: Recent improvements in student learning, teacher time, and cheating, both in-person and online

We describe the evolution and research findings of UCR’s intro CS courses for in-person and online class sections since 2013. The courses transitioned from common high DFW rate to low DFW rates and strong grades, highly-positive evaluations, and consistent results across instructors, while requiring only a few hours of teacher effort per week. Improvements include: (1) use of web-native interactive learning content to replace textbooks/homeworks. (2) using class time for live-coding of examples, with extensive typed chat activity in online classes, (3) replacing the weekly program by many-small-programs, with instant auto-grading, and (4) positive teachers, who also create a “culture of mistakes”. We started with an OER attempt, but realizing its limitations, replaced it in 2012 by a company (zyBooks) for continual professional improvement of content and platform, now serving 300,000 students/year at 600 universities. Research at UCR is now exploring directions to gain deeper insight into student programming behavior, to improve teaching and reduce cheating too.

Frank Vahid

Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Univ. of California, Riverside on January 29, 2021 at 11:00 AM in Zoom Webinar
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Frank Vahid is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, Riverside, since 1994, and the co-founder and chief learning officer of zyBooks (acquired by Wiley in 2019). His research focus is on improving college-level CS/CE/STEM education, and previously (and still) on embedded systems. He is author of textbooks from Wiley, Pearson, and zyBooks on topics including C++, C, Java, data structures, digital design, computer organization, embedded systems, computing technology, introductory math and algebra, and more. He has received several teaching awards, including UCR Engineering's Outstanding Teacher award and UCR's Innovative Teaching award. In recent years, he has spoken on CS/CE education at over 50 universities across the country. His work has been supported by the NSF (university and SBIR Phase I/II grants), the SRC, the U.S. Dept. of Education (university and SBIR Phase I grants), and companies such as Google and Intel. He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Colloquia

This lecture series features exciting and dynamic visiting and virtual speakers from across the range of ECE disciplines. Take some time every Friday morning to be inspired by these great scientists and engineers before heading into the weekend!