THE USE OF A SERIES OF ONLINE MINI-LECTURES TO DELIVER FACTS IN FIRST YEAR PROGRAMMING
AbstractIn the first year programming course given to ME and MTE students at uWaterloo, four hours of traditional classroom instruction have been replaced with a series of short online mini-lectures that deliver some of the basic facts necessary to be able to code programs. The students’ comprehension of this content is assessed online by quizzes and on the midterm exam. This approach was used in a course which was not otherwise delivered online. The goal was to front-load the course to make space for a design project later in the term. The online mini-lectures were designed to be “lecture-time neutral”. The accelerated start of term allowed threshold concepts to show up on assignments a week earlier than with the traditional approach, giving students an additional week of practice with these topics. This led to noticeable gains in understanding on the final exam. Survey data was collected, and focus groups were run, to capture student feedback on the approach; additionally, course grades were analyzed to assess impact on student knowledge of course material.