Development of a Set of 'Closed Laboratories' for an Undergraduate Computer Science Curriculum

Author:Wulf, Wm, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Virginia

As a discipline, Computer Science has seen many dramatic changes in its brief history. Through new textbooks and an evolving curriculum, the content of undergraduate Computer Science education has for the most part kept pace with these changes. But the pedagogy has hardly changed. Not only is that pedagogy out of dat - - it is profoundly wrong. It emphasizes individual skill in writing short programs in a dead language, from scratch. This emphasis is the antithesis of that needed by a contemporary computing professional. The objective of the present proposal is to support the development, evaluation and export of a new curriculum and supporting materials focused around the practice of computing -- especially in the first two years. We believe that this pedagogical shift has, by far, the highest leverage for improving Computer Science education. The thrust of our new curriculum is based upon a core sequence of closed laboratories. Lecture materials and content will be supportive of the laboratories rather than the other way around. While content can always be improved, we cannot expect to make quantum improvements. Laboratories, by contrast, have been largely neglected in this "laboratory science". Thus, the output of this curriculum development can have a significant national impact on the Computer Science education.
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Source Citation:

Wulf, Wm. "Development of a Set of 'Closed Laboratories' for an Undergraduate Computer Science Curriculum." University of Virginia Dept. of Computer Science Tech Report (1991).

University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science
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