Team Based Learning and Studio Methods in Computer Science

TitleTeam Based Learning and Studio Methods in Computer Science
Duration1 Year
Project Summary

Computer Science is prototyping a radically new teaching format for our department, with hands-on, team-based learning (TBL) and studio techniques in intensive, TA-led sections of approximately 25 students (-5 people/team). This experiment is being carried out within the expanding Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) curriculum-offered by a newly-hired world-class HCI group, and drawing -150 students/year from CS (one of the largest departments in Science) and other departments such as Psychology, ECE, Mechanical Engineering, and others.

Human-Computer Interaction is concerned with designing, implementing, and evaluating interactive technology, by involving end users throughout its development. It is a young, highly interdisciplinary field that is evolving a rich set of methods that draw from many other fields: e.g., controlled experiments from psychology and prototyping from industrial design. Most of these methods are best learned in hands-on, team-based exercises culminating in a practical team project that puts students through the full design cycle with the appropriate roles and timing for its various methods. TBL and studio methods are a particularly good fit for HCI learning.

The department has supported our project with preliminary curriculum development and modest infrastructure (a lab space in ICCS-CS2: room X360), but due to severe budget restrictions it cannot do more. In order to meet our teaching objectives we require (a) additional curriculum development, and (b) the completion of the HCI Learning Studio in X360: appropriate equipping of this space is integral to our version of the TBL approach.
CPSC 344, Introduction to HCI Methods, is being taught for the first time (fall 2005). In addition to two lecture hours, it uses X360 for two-hour problem-based sessions (PBS, or tutorials) and two-hour design studio sessions (labs). The PBS are targeted, team explorations of HCI methods, while the design studio supports the same teams in a term project. With the proposed improvements, X360 will be appropriately equipped for the students to work effectively in teams with intensive TA support. Meanwhile, CPSC 444 will be extensively revised to become Advanced HCI Methods, and introduced in Jan 2007: the revision will transform its current three-lecture-hour format to the prototyped 344 format, and cover advanced topics (e.g., video for prototyping and evaluation). Both courses will include modules on how the research community is evolving HCI methods and/or innovating new technologies, and on industry practice.

The goal of this project is thus to prototype the TBL and studio methods so they can be extended to other areas of CS; and to provide students with deeper HCI skills which will both prepare them for jobs and promote graduate work in HCI. To this end, we request funds to support curriculum development and Learning Studio completion.

Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2006/2007
Year 1: Project TypeSmall TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorJoanna McGrenere
Year 1: Funded Amount41,217
Year 1: Team Members

Joanna McGrenere, Computer Science, Faculty of Science
K. Booth, Computer Science, Faculty of Science
G. Carenini, Computer Science, Faculty of Science
M. Chua, Student, Computer Science
C. Conati, Computer Science, Faculty of Science
M. Fietkiewicz, Student, Computer Science
K. MacLean, Computer Science, Faculty of Science
K. Parker, Ph.D. Student, Computer Science, Faculty of Science
R. Rensink, Psychology, Faculty or Arts / Computer Science, Faculty of Science
Kaitlin Sherwood, M.Sc. Student, Computer Science, Faculty of Science
S. Wolfman, Computer Science, Faculty of Science