A Novel Self-Paced Model for Teaching Programming

A Novel Self-Paced Model for Teaching Programming

Jeff Offutt, Paul Ammann, Kinga Dobolyi, Chris Kauffmann, Jaime Lester, Upsorn Praphamontripong, Huzefa Rangwala, Sanjeev Setia, Pearl Wang, and Liz White

The Self-Paced Learning Increases Retention and Capacity (SPARC) project is responding to the well-documented surge in CS enrollment by creating a self-paced learning environment that blends online learning, automated assessment, collaborative practice, and peer-supported learning. SPARC delivers educational material online, encourages students to practice programming in groups, frees them to learn material at their own pace, and allows them to demonstrate proficiency at any time. This model contrasts with traditional course offerings, which impose a single schedule of due dates and exams for all students. SPARC allows students to complete courses faster or slower at a pace tailored to the individual, thereby allowing universities to teach more students with the same or fewer resources. This paper describes the goals and elements of the SPARC model as applied to CS1. We present results so far and discuss the future of the project.