Active Learning Using Closed Labs: An Alternative Paradigm for Computer Science Instruction

  • Mcdonald, Merry M. (PI)
  • Detmer, Richard R. (CoPI)
  • Mcdonald, Gary G. (CoPI)
  • Null, Linda Marie (CoPI)
  • Heeler, Phillip P. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


9450895 McDonald Using closed laboratory sessions as the vehicle for implementation, this project develops an active learning environment for computer science instruction in the first two courses in the major. Other institutions will be able to replicate this environment. The project demonstrates that closed laboratories can be used effectively as the primary means of instruction in the first two courses in the major and provides an alternative teaching paradigm that is more student-centered than the traditional lecture/listen method. This paradigm focusses on the student as performer, rather than the professor as performer. The professors role is facilitator, guide, and manager. There is much current interest in incorporating closed laboratories into the computer science curriculum, but the investigators know of no other institution that is committed to replacing most lecture/listen sessions with a totally redesigned active learning environment based on the use of closed laboratories. Formal studies have shown that students learn best in small groups. The closed laboratory materials and the physical arrangement of the equipment is designed to promote teamwork, and a major goal of the project is to help students learn to work effectively in teams. Lifelong learning skills will be developed as the focus of activity centers on the student and encourages her/him to share responsibility for the learning process. The project can have a positive effect on attracting and retaining women and minorities because of the emphasis on human interaction and the de-emphasis on rote learning and memorization.

Effective start/end date6/1/945/31/96


  • National Science Foundation: $51,889.00


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