Proposal Title

Learning Computational Thinking Using Open-Source Hardware-based Programming

Track

Research Proposal / Teaching with Technology

Proposal Abstract

One of the first most fundamental skills that freshman engineering students learn is computational thinking. Computation thinking is the thought process carried out to solve problems. To develop this skill-set usually computer programming fundamentals are introduced using a specific programming language. This approach falls short in sustaining the students’ interest in engineering. To rekindle the students’ interest in engineering, we proposed the utilization of the open-source electronics prototyping platform “Arduino”. Introducing the students to hardware programming and having them use project-based approaches to develop their computational thinking skill-set increased their interest in the subject matter and significantly improved their performance.

Proposal Description

One of the first most fundamental skills that freshman engineering students learn is computational thinking. Computation thinking is the thought process carried out to solve problems in a structured way. This process involves mapping the problem’s abstract physical framework into a computational framework. To develop this skill-set usually computer programming fundamentals are introduced using a specific programming language such as MATLAB or C. Even though this approach is appropriate in general, it falls far short of students’ expectations mainly in addressing the basics of engineering principles and hands-on design at the freshman level. This is basically due to the virtual nature of programming. To rekindle the students’ interest in engineering, we proposed the utilization of the inexpensive open-source electronics prototyping platform “Arduino” to introduce them to the basics of engineering principles and hands-on design. This hardware platform was used in a tethered configuration with MATLAB developing environment. Designing using this platform directly relates computation thinking to the engineering design process. Introducing the students to hardware programming and having them use project-based approaches to develop their computational thinking skill-set increased their interest in the subject matter and significantly improved their performance in this course.

Session Format

Presentation Session

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Mar 29th, 4:00 PM Mar 29th, 5:00 PM

Learning Computational Thinking Using Open-Source Hardware-based Programming

One of the first most fundamental skills that freshman engineering students learn is computational thinking. Computation thinking is the thought process carried out to solve problems. To develop this skill-set usually computer programming fundamentals are introduced using a specific programming language. This approach falls short in sustaining the students’ interest in engineering. To rekindle the students’ interest in engineering, we proposed the utilization of the open-source electronics prototyping platform “Arduino”. Introducing the students to hardware programming and having them use project-based approaches to develop their computational thinking skill-set increased their interest in the subject matter and significantly improved their performance.