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Active Learning in Computing: Engaging Learners in a Cross-Site Team Project

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Marie Devlin, Emeritus Professor Lindsay MarshallORCiD


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Active Learning in Computing (ALiC) is a CETL project led by the University of Durham, with the University of Newcastle, Leeds Metropolitan University and the University of Leeds as partners. The project focuses on increasing the level of student engagement within the Computing curriculum, aiming to make the student experience more relevant to industry. This paper concerns an experiment being undertaken jointly by the ALiC researchers at Newcastle and Durham. The pedagogical aims are to increase engagement and simulate the working practices of large companies, specifically running software development projects with teams at different geographical locations. The experiment consists of an assignment shared between teams of second year students on the Software Engineering Modules at Durham and Newcastle, where regular communication helps achieve success. The teams can use communication methods such as email and face-to-face meetings on-site and email, SMS, bulletin boards and video-conferencing for contacting their off-site counterparts. The structure of the assignment gives an insight into Software Engineering in an industrial context, makes problem-solving more realistic and also encourages the development of transferable skills. The assessments allow students to reflect upon their individual and team performance and to explore the roles and skills required when working in teams. This paper reviews the Newcastle students' perceptions of their skill levels and choice of team structure at the beginning of the team project and compares them to their reports at the interim stage. It also outlines what the module leaders have learned so far and how they will refine the design of the assignment in the future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Devlin M, Marshall L, Phillips C

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: SOLSTICE Conference 2006

Year of Conference: 2006

Pages: 1-11

Publisher: Edge Hill Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Notes: Proceedings on CD-ROM. Conference Papers, Session 7.