President's Teaching Scholars Program



Clayton Lewis
Computer Science Department

CSCI 1300 (Computer Science 1: Programming) Course Description:

Computer Science 1: Programming teaches techniques for writing computer programs in higher level programming languages to solve problems of interest in a range of application domains.
In my recent offerings, I've presented two different programming languages, a practice that helps students see that the concepts and techniques they are learning are not limited to a particular language, but are of more general value. The course also includes an opportunity for students to work on a project of their own choosing, so that they can apply what they have learned to a problem of personal significance.

Over the years, we and other CS programs nationally found ourselves confronting two serious problems, frequent cheating and very low participation by women. These problems are not unrelated: the classroom climate created by cheating and the efforts to control it by ever more draconian policies was very unattractive to many women students. Beginning last year, I developed a new version of CS1300 which eliminated these problems, and created an atmosphere in which students are encouraged, and indeed required, to work constructively together. At the same time, in response to research done here and nationally on the interests of women students, I have created new exercises for the class which make clearer the potential social benefits of computer technology. The result is a course whose appeal reaches beyond those students who are fascinated by technology for its own sake (a group that includes few women) to students whose interest is more in what technology can contribute to life. This year, CS1300 students will develop software which can be used to match the interests of students and faculty in the department, making a positive contribution to our department's culture. Thanks to a curriculum grant from Microsoft, students will be able to deploy their programs on the Web, giving them experience in their first semester with real-world software delivery.