Using Music to Enhance Learning and Engagement Outcomes for Non-Majors in an Introduction to Programming Course
Computing is increasingly seen as one of the core-competency areas in contemporary society. One of the challenges for non-majors in introductory computing courses is the often dry and uninspiring teaching approaches found in traditional methods. To better help non-majors understand the concepts found in introductory computer science, we have devised lessons and assignments that use music as a motivating domain to introduce core concepts such as loops, lists and functions. A music based online learning environment called Earsketch is utilized for this purpose. There is also a perception of computing as ﾓuncoolﾔ among undergraduates and a persistent gender-gap and underrepresentation of minorities in the field of computing. We seek to address that with this project.
The goal of this project is create an Earsketch based curriculum and measure its impact on student content knowledge, engagement, intention to persist, and actual persistence in computing.
The setting for this project is Georgia Gwinnett College; an open access college where every student is required to take two computing related courses. The Earsketch curriculum will be presented to students in at least four ITEC 2120 (Introduction to Programming) sections each semester, and a corresponding number of comparison sections will not use the Earsketch curriculum. By comparing student content knowledge (via a pre/post language agnostic content knowledge assessment), engagement and intent to persist (via a retrospective pre-post computing engagement survey), and actual persistence (via registrar data on future course selections) across the control and treatment classrooms, we hope to understand the impact of the EarSketch curriculum on students across different demographics.
The expected outcomes of this project are a freely available Earsketch based curriculum where music is used as a motivating subject in an introductory CS course for non-majors, as well as quantitative findings on the efficacy of this curriculum as compared to alternate approaches in impacting student content knowledge and engagement across diverse demographics.
By creating the new Earsketch based curriculum, we hope to attract a diverse population of students who would have otherwise eschewed the field of computing because of preconceived notions. We hope to inspire and attract students to the field of computing using the engaging material in the Earsketch curriculum and to improve the learning outcomes for every student in these courses.
We have not encountered any unexpected challenges yet.
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