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Contract Instructor

Summer 2010/2011: Introduction to Computers for Arts and Social Sciences

I was hired as a contract instructor for the 2010 early summer term.  I requested to teach COMP 1001: Introduction to Computers for Arts and Social Sciences.  From the course calendar description:

COMP 1001 [0.5 credit]

Introduction to Computers for the Arts and Social Sciences

This course is intended to give students in the arts and social sciences a working knowledge of computers and their applications; computer fundamentals; use of computing facilities; introduction to graphical user interfaces; a sampling of software packages applied to problems in the arts and social sciences.

I wanted to try this course in particular because I had some ideas for how to make it more interesting that I wanted to test.  The course has traditionally concentrated on showing how to use software like Microsoft Word in detail during lectures.  I wanted to see if I could add a little more computer science into the mix.

One of the things I attempted was to incorporate as many activities and videos into class as I could.  Based on an anonymous survey I conducted at the end of the course, this worked really well for some students, while others felt that these activities were time fillers or childish.  I believe the latter attitude is more of a product of how I presented the activities than the fact I used them at all.  The level of understanding I saw in students who participated in the activities was far deeper than I would expect of them otherwise.  Many students did not attend class and do not seem to understand nearly as well.

Course Content

Details about the course content are available here.

Paper: Adding Computer Science to an Introductory Computing Class for Non-Majors

I submitted a paper to SIGCSE 2011 that was not accepted; however, I along with the reviewers feel that the paper should be of interest to others, so it is uploaded here.  It includes a description of the curriculum, and a summary of survey results from the first time teaching the course.