COMP 202 – Foundations of Programming

Instructors Giulia Alberini
Course COMP 202 – Foundations of Programming
Department/School Computer Science
Enrolment 700-750
No. of teaching assistants 20
No. of TEAM or TEACH students 18

Strategy goal(s)

Engage students as well as assess how they are doing in the course.

Description

Organize once a week (in my case on Fridays) a class in which we only do in-class activities. I’d like to create groups of 4 students which will always be working together throughout the semester in these activity classes. To be able to do that, I first need to divide the students into 4 groups with less than 200 students each (this is because in Zoom up to 200 participants can be assigned to breakout rooms. So if there are more that 200 participants I would have to randomly assign the breakout rooms, which in this case defeats the purpose). I will use different activities in these classes: presentations, peer assessment, think-pair-shares, polls, and games. There are 13 Fridays in the semester: the first Friday will be used to make sure everyone has the correct set up on their computers, the second will be used to present the different type of activities we’ll be doing for the rest of the semester. Of the remaining 11 Fridays, I will use 3 to work through case studies using think-pair-share, and 8 for presentations/peer-assessments and polls. This is how I’d like to organize the presentations: group 4 groups together (for a total of 16 students) and assign them one TA. In each of the groups of 4, 1 person presents, while the others provide feedback. This will result in 4 presentations in each group of 16 each time. Throughout the semester, each student will present twice and provide feedback to their peers 6 times. Each presentation should last 10 minutes, which leaves time for a polling activity at the end (possibly based on the 4 problems that have been presented).

Because this is a synchronous activity, I will have 2 grading schemas. The activity classes will be part of only one of them, leaving the students the option to opt out of them if they prefer. The alternative to the activity classes, will be presenting to the instructors and a TA the work they submit for each one of the four assignments.

Comments

I will be using this strategy for the first time in the Fall. This is not something I could have done if the course was not online since it would have been hard to have many presentations happening at the same time in a classroom such as LEA 132 or even MAASS 112.

I’m excited about trying out this idea because I expect these type of activities to help students engage with the material every week and learning from their peers while doing it. This is a class that most of the students take in their U0 or U1, so I would expect this type of activities to help new students meet other students at McGill even in a remote setting.
There are a couple of things that I think will be challenging: having the support needed (in the form of TAs), being able to prepare meaningful activities every Friday, and last (but not least) coming up with a good rubric to assess the students.

I generally ask my students to fill out a small evaluation form after 4-6 weeks into the semester. In this specific case, I would probably add a quick feedback question in the poll I’ll be running on the Fridays in which we have the presentations.
 

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