PI: S. Monisha Pulimood (Computer Science), Co-PI: Kim Pearson (Journalism), Evaluator: Diane Bates (Sociology) The College of New Jersey
Hypothesis: To increase motivation toward, and interest in, computing careers, undergraduates must be immersed in interdisciplinary collaborative solutions where they are creators of computational solutions and internalize the relevance of and interconnectedness between classroom learning and community they live in.
Goal: Formalize a model for collaboration across disciplines and with a community partner.
Pilot Study: Over the course of five semesters, undergraduate students in computer science classes taught by Pulimood are collaborating with several of Pearson’s journalism and interactive multimedia classes and the Trenton, New Jersey branch of Habitat for Humanity to create SOAP (Students Organizing Against Pollution) a software system that makes neighborhood-level environmental information more accessible. Habitat needs this information to determine testing and remediation costs for properties that they might acquire and develop. CS classes: Database Systems, Software Engineering. Journalism/Interactive Multimedia classes: Blogging and Social Media, News Games, Environmental Journalism, Future of the News.
Methods: Classes, assignments are focused on the “problem. Visits and field trip organized with community partner help students in both classes understand the needs. The CS students design modules to address the needs. Journalism students research trusted data sources, explore tools and techniques for presenting information and improving use experience.
Assessment methods: Pretest, midterm and postest surveys, evaluation of artifacts produced
Preliminary Results: Students in both Spring, 2013 classes reported greater understanding of computational thinking from pre-test to post-test. Students reported highest gains in understanding how computing affects society. Community partner gets tools and resources useful to their work. Data from Fall, 2013 are still being analyzed. However, we have made adjustments to the collaborative model based on student feedback to provide for more scaffolding and structured collaboration.
Get Involved: We’d love to help you adopt the CABECT model! We can provide you with information on best practices, and advice on avoiding pitfalls. We’ll share our assessment and evaluation instruments, as well as the documentation and configuration scripts for the technology we used to support cross-class collaboration. And we’ll provide you with a supportive intellectual community along the way.
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