Teaching Technology

Here I've included some examples of how I use technology in the Computer Science I (CS 121), Intermediate Algebra (Math 108), and College Algebra (Math 143) courses that I've instructed at Boise State University.

[Figure 0] The "textbook" for my Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra courses is Aleks. For weekly homework, each student must do 6 hours on Aleks to earn a "time grade" and I assign each student a certain number of topics to do in their Aleks pie (based on what they've completed so far and what they need to complete) to earn a "topic grade". So their weekly time and topic grades are based on the percentage of these goals that they complete. Aleks is an excellent program with many features, and it allows me to evaluate each student's progress and evaluate the entire class' progress. I use this information to help me plan my lessons and determine which topics most students are ready to learn (see below).

An example of how I use Aleks to determine which algebra topics my students are ready to learn so I can plan my next lesson.

[Figure 1] Each week my Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra students take an in-class practice quiz the computer lab day. Creating assessments like these practice quizzes is insanely fast and easy! These practice quizzes are used for attendance and ungraded assessment purposes only. The quizzes are comprised of 4-6 questions, where typically 2-3 questions are based on the previous week's lecture and 2-3 questions are based on topics that I'm planning for the next upcoming lesson. Therefore, I use the quiz results to help me plan my upcoming lessons.

An example of how I create weekly practice quizzes for my students using Aleks.

[Figure 2] After the practice quiz is over, I can view the scores of each student in the class so I can plan my next lesson accordingly.

An example of the instructor's view of a student's practice quiz score.

[Figure 3] After the practice quiz is over, I can assess each student to see which questions they missed. Moreover, each student receives immediate feedback so they can see which topic questions they missed and then have the opportunity to practice those topics.

An example of the instructor's view of a student's practice quiz score.

[Figure 4] In addition to email and such, I also use Piazza to communicate with my students. Piazza has a text editor with built in equation and programming code features, so its a great way to answer programming questions that my computer science students have. Moreover, I also use it to post messages to the entire class with examples and feedback. For instance, when my CS 121 students were being lazy and submitting not-so-good README files, I decided to respond to them to tell them "what is up" (see below).

My response to the poor READMEs that my computer science students submitted with their last programming project.

[Figure 5] I use Piazza to prompt my students with a poll so they can vote on various issues. For example, I asked them: "Which of the following in-class activities do you think is most beneficial to your learning?" (see below). This information helps me adjust my teaching and plan future lessons. As you can see below, my students don't think that the conventional lecture slides are most beneficial to their learning, as they tend to think that the live programming demonstrations and in-class team-based activities are the most beneficial.

It is evident that my CS 121 students prefer live programming demonstrations and in-class team activities over the conventional lecture slides.

[Figure 6] In CS 121 my students use the Eclipse Platform as their Java programming development environment, where they write code to create computer programs that implement working solutions to solve complex problems. For my in-class live programming demonstrations I use Eclipse to show them how to create example code, where we typically write the code together.

My students create computer programs!

[Figure 7] In CS 121 my students create programs to do all kinds of crazy things, such as counting the letter frequencies and word length frequencies of Alice-in-Wonderland.txt!

My students create computer programs to analyze Alice-in-Wonderland.txt!