Getting Them Out Of Their Shells: Service Learning And CS Students
Jim Bohy Iowa Wesleyan College
OverviewWhy service learning?What is service learning?The course itselfThe resultsWhat Id do differently
Why service learning?Lilly grant @ SimpsonAdvisor trainingForming mentoring relationshipsService learningCourse development grantsVocational explorationService learningMy own interests in educational technology and software development
Service learning definedService-learning is a teaching method which combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility.
Service-learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, and commitment to the community.
Service learning from my perspectiveBalance academic rigor with social responsibilityGet the students to engage with the other (however thats defined usually its an opportunity to be exposed to diversity)Overcome stereotypes of what CS majors are and do
The courseComputer Science in EducationCross listedBroad goalsGet CS and Education majors to take the courseEach group can lend their expertise in constructing truly educational softwareGet the school kids involved in the design process
Course objectivesUpon completion of this course, students should be able to: Develop a piece of instructional software Develop and measure the effectiveness of a piece of instructional software Develop a set of criteria to be used to evaluate instructional software Critically evaluate applications of computer-based and computer assisted instruction
Objectives continuedDevelop a set of goals and objectives from which instructional software could be produced Work with K-12 teachers and students to design a piece of instructional software Work with K-12 students to develop an appropriate user interface for a piece of instructional software
ActivitiesReflective writingSoftware evaluationsSoftware developmentCourse participation
The environmentEconomically disadvantaged elementary school in Des Moines3rd grade classroomVariety of reading levelsThe teacherMA in educational technologyRan a reasonably well-structured classroom
3 CS majors took the course (no education majors)2 seniors and 1 freshman3 of the quietest students I have ever worked with in 16 years of teaching collegeMy role was one of relatively active observer
Basic structureSpent several periods talking about educational software developmentMet with the 3rd grade clients once a week for 6 weeksSpent several class periods looking at existing software to get ideasSpent remaining class periods developing the software
The resultsThe program itselfThe relationships builtBetween my students and these 3rd gradersBetween me and my studentsBetween the institutionsThe changes in the studentsWhat I got out of it
My perspective might be a little different than that of my classmates, since Ive been lucky enough to be around computers my entire school career. Through computers subjects seen as dull and boring, like math, can be turned into a fun game. With the project we did, I felt that the kids genuinely enjoyed calling out answers and competing a little bit with each other.
As a computer scientist, the ability to not only complete goals but also do them in a timely manner is extremely important. I also learned how to split up the various jobs we had to finish in order to complete the project. Things like a general outline of how the program should work and look like were things I had never done before.
I dont know if this class made me really change as a person, but it did help me to understand how to teach children. I am not going to be a teacher anytime soon, of course, but knowledge of the different types of learning and different methods of teaching will certainly help when I have a family of my own someday.
Honestly, the childrens reaction to the finished project was great. It was definitely the best experience I had as a computer science major. Also asking the children for their input was definitely an experience into and of itself.
The only thing that hampered us from making the project just a little bit better was the lack of students in the group that were majoring in education. As a CompSci student I never was taught the differences between styles of learning or anything like that. Also, some art students would have been nice, since none of us in the project are artists in any sense of the word. Animations are the one thing that I wish we could have put in the game, but we ran out of time and our animating skills werent up to par unfortunately.
What Id Do DifferentlyThe development environmentA bit more direction on the projectPush the teacher more for ideasRecruit more education majors to take the course