Research on the Use of Innovative Instructional Strategies in Computer Science Curricula

Complex computer-based systems are becoming increasingly ubiquitous elements of society. The growing complexity and constant change of these systems require that today's computer science professional possess more than the fixed skills that become obsolete with the technology to which they are married. Instead, today's technology professional must be able to manage complexity and change with the use of adaptive problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills that may be applied in all types of problem areas.

LDI researchers are conducting a critical analysis of research on innovative instructional strategies designed to teach such skills in Computer Science curricula. Strategies are being analyzed in terms of instructional effectiveness, student attitude, and cognitive and metacognitive skills development.

The overall aim of the inquiry is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of innovative instructional strategies applied in the computer science discipline, and to determine the potential applications of such strategies to other problem-oriented learning settings. Specific goals of the study include:

  1. Synthesis of all available research findings regarding use of innovative instructional strategies.
  2. Development of a coherent framework for the analysis of research findings.
  3. Analysis of the outcomes of the instructional strategies in terms of instructional effectiveness, student attitude, and development of cognitive and metacognitive skills in students.
  4. Implications of research findings for other disciplinary areas.

Sources of data for the review include published research in leading research journals; white papers and reviews from professional organizations and research bodies; and information published directly from the institutions where such instructional strategies are being implemented. An analysis of the full range of the data collected for each type of instructional strategy is being used to assess overall strategy effectiveness.

Instructors charged with the implementation of these strategies are also being contacted for the purpose of gathering qualitative narratives. This qualitative data will be used to supplement empirical findings as to a particular instructional strategy's effectiveness. Qualitative data is being analyzed through the development of inductive coding schemes applied to individual data sources.

A summary of the research focus area, and research findings to-date was presented at the 2001 international conference of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), in Atlanta, Georgia. The presentation can be accessed here.

For more information on this effort, please contact Ray J. Amirault or Yusra Laila Visser. Furthermore, continue to check this section of the LDI site for updates on research progress and findings.