PhD Student, University of Sydney
Educational benefits of an international coding competition where students get their code in space.
Zero Robotics is an international programming competition for high school students that gives the opportunity for them to get their code in space, controlling NASA’s SPHERES robots on board the International Space Station (ISS). Students form into teams to write code that controls the robots to compete in a challenging game scenario. To be successful in the challenge, teams need to understand the limitations of the robot, the physics of how it moves, and need to describe what they want the robot to do, using mathematics. They need to then develop a game strategy, and bring it all together in code to command the robot. At later stages of the competition, teams form international alliances of three teams to compete for the limited spots where their code is run on the robots, in space. We look into the educational benefits of how this program has been implemented in Australia, addressing both the technical skills of coding, mathematics and physics, with the soft skills of teamwork, project management and international collaboration. The underlying hypothesis is that “learning through solving motivating problems” is an extremely effective way for students to develop these skills. Rather than learning a concept for the sake of learning it, students are given the task to control a NASA robot in a game, and then are supported to learn the tools required to complete the task. This approach has been shown to be effective in teaching both the technical skills and the soft skills, as shown with students who have already gone through the program. On top of the skills development is the inspirational factor that can have long lasting impact, with Zero Robotics showing students the exciting possibilities they have in their future. Through reflecting on the effectiveness of the program we look to continue to improve Zero Robotics for students throughout Australia.
Abstract: This article presents student experiences and learning outcomes in information literacy (IL) and evidence-based practice (EBP) following interdisciplinary supervision of their assignments by nurse educators, nurse supervisors and librarians in real clinical settings. The article is based on qualitative and quantitative text analysis of 102 individual student logs, qualitative text analysis of 36 student group assignments, feedback from an evaluation form and 285 blog and wiki comments from students, nurse educators, nurse supervisors and librarians. It is analysed according to the first five steps of the EBP model of and feedback from an evaluation form. The students’ learning outcomes in information literacy improved by using the EBP model. By the end of the project period, 83 % of the students had integrated a focus on research-based knowledge into their work placement assignment. The interdisciplinary joint supervision and a related blog and wiki communication forum had significant influence on this outcome space. The preparation programme for the students on campus, before work practice placements was developed collaboratively between the nursing education programme and the Learning Centre and library. There is very little existing research on the effect of cross-collaborative supervision in IL where both physical and digital tools have been used in work placements. This challenges established routines and ways of conducting supervision in IL in both the library and nursing education, because of the need to collaborate more tightly than before.
Pub.: 22 Jun '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17
Abstract: The paper reports on an ongoing research project into the development of "Mobile Academy", an Android-based mobile learning (mLearning) application (app). The project comprises three major phases: requirement analysis, application development and testing and evaluation. To satisfy the user requirement analysis, a detailed ethnographic study was conducted to investigate how people from different background use mobile devices for learning purposes. The initial analysis and evaluation of the first version of the projected app demonstrates very promising results. Making use of the app seemed to have, in general, a positive dimension in facilitating educational use of mobile devices.
Pub.: 10 Aug '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17
Abstract: The primary motivation of much of software analytics is decision making. How to make these decisions? Should one make decisions based on lessons that arise from within a particular project? Or should one generate these decisions from across multiple projects? This work is an attempt to answer these questions. Our work was motivated by a realization that much of the current generation software analytics tools focus primarily on prediction. Indeed prediction is a useful task, but it is usually followed by "planning" about what actions need to be taken. This research seeks to address the planning task by seeking methods that support actionable analytics that offer clear guidance on what to do. Specifically, we propose XTREE and BELLTREE algorithms for generating a set of actionable plans within and across projects. Each of these plans, if followed will improve the quality of the software project.
Pub.: 15 Aug '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17
Abstract: While there exists a significant number of web interactives for introductory physics, students are almost never shown the computer code that generates these interactives even when the physics parts of these programs are relatively simple. Building off of a set of carefully-designed classical mechanics programming exercises that were constructed with this goal in mind, we present a series of electromagnetism programming exercises in a browser-based framework called p5.js. Importantly, this framework can be used to highlight the physics aspects of an interactive simulation code while obscuring other details. This approach allows absolute beginner programmers to gain experience in modifying and running the program without becoming overwhelmed. We plan to probe the impact on student conceptual learning using the Brief Electricity and Magnetism Assessment and other questions. We invite collaborators and teachers to adopt this framework in their high school or early undergraduate classes. All exercises are available at http://compadre.org/PICUP
Pub.: 01 Jul '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17
Abstract: The growing popularity of microcontroller-based prototyping boards in many engineering and science applications has greatly increased the demand of mechatronic skills in the technical job market. The need to keep up with this new tend, combined with the proven effectiveness of integrating theoretical learning with hands-on, project-based activities has driven the development of new educational standards and curricula pivoting on the use of microcontroller-based prototyping boards. However, the most common Integrated Development Environments (IDE) used to simplify program development lack the intuitiveness and post-processing capabilities needed in an instructional environment. This paper presents an approach aimed at overcoming these obstacles. It provides a unique and comprehensive framework for programming Arduino boards through the C/C++ interpreter Ch. It extends the authors’ previous work on the topic by integrating a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and a library of functions, and by improving the serial communication protocol. The paper also shows how the toolkit can be easily integrated with other features and toolkits available in Ch such as plotting and line-by-line debugging to create comprehensive projects tailored for K-14 students at different levels. The concepts presented in this work are applied to programming Arduino boards but provide a general basis upon which similar frameworks can be implemented for other boards or in other programming languages.
Pub.: 27 Jul '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17
Abstract: This paper presents a programming project named NMRviewer that allows students to visualize transformed and processed 1H NMR data in an accessible, interactive format while allowing instructors to incorporate programming content into the chemistry curricula. Using the MATLAB graphical user interface development environment (GUIDE), students can build an NMR viewer software program via three main features: a display window, an open file dialogue, and a stack plot option. The experience is designed so that students acquire basic notions of flow diagrams, control loops, Boolean logic rules, and further aspects of the syntax of coding in MATLAB. By building and using the NMR viewer, students can improve their skills and understanding of basic concepts of programming, a discipline often undervalued in current undergraduate chemistry curricula. Importantly, the described NMRviewer is designed for Bruker’s data and the Windows operating system, although the tools provided in this project allow students to build their own viewers adapted to their needs.
Pub.: 11 Jul '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17
Abstract: The aim of mentorship is to build the mentees capacity, enhance their skills and improve their ability to produce desired outcomes. However, the mentoring relationship is vulnerable to a number of challenges that may undermine its effectiveness and sustainability. We aimed to explore the experiences and perceptions of student and junior faculty mentees and senior faculty mentors at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences and identify the key factors defined by mentees and mentors as necessary for a successful mentorship program.A qualitative design involving focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KII) was used. A total of eight KII and four FGDs were conducted, audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Open coding of the transcripts was performed, and major themes were identified through multiple readings based on thematic analysis.Six key themes were shared by the mentees and mentors including: 1) defining the role of the mentor; 2) desired characteristics of a mentor and a mentoring relationship, with an emphasis on mutual trust and respect; 3) overlapping roles of mentors and supervisors; 4) issues with the process for identifying mentors, including the benefits and drawbacks of the mentee selecting mentor vs. being assigned a mentor; 5) current barriers to mentoring, including lack of knowledge about current program, lack of formal structure, uncertainly about who should initiate relationship, and unclear roles and expectations and 6) recommendations for the future development of mentoring programme, including the need for a formalized programme, and training adapted to the local context.The mentees and mentors described the role of the mentor and desired characteristics of mentors and a mentoring relationship similarly. Most concerns about mentoring occurred when current mentoring programmes and practices were not well aligned with these desired characteristics. Recommendations for future development of mentoring included greater formalization of mentoring with mentoring programmes based on shared expectations and adapted to the local context.
Pub.: 16 Jul '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17
Abstract: In 2004 Denmark introduced a compulsory integrated science course the most popular upper secondary study program. One of the nation-wide course aims are for students to "achieve knowledge about some of the central scientific issues and their social, ethical, and historical perspectives". This is to be done via collaboration between the subjects, and often involves physics and another scientific subject. The official teaching plans further state that mathematics must be used for analysing data. We use network analysis to study six different implementations of the course in terms of the structure of different kinds of teaching/learning activities. By creating networks maps of each lesson, we show that teaching/learning activities in the course seldom tends to address how sciences can work together to solve a problem, but rather stages each natural science as a distinct and separate activity with a distinct identity.
Pub.: 04 Aug '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17
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