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Work in progress — Extending parallelism education to the first year with a bottom-up approach

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2 Author(s)
Lammers, G. ; Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN, USA ; Brown, C.

Parallel programming is quickly becoming a major focus of computer engineering education. This leads to the natural question of how to best introduce aspiring computer engineers to the topic. A bottom-up approach to computer architecture and programming was implemented in an experimental course at Purdue University and was offered to first year students. A study of that course's effectiveness is currently underway using a mixed-methods study. The Concurrency Concepts Inventory, an objective examination, and a focus group of past students will be the primary methods of evaluation. A pilot focus group was held in order to design a survey that accurately reflects students' understanding of the topics in question using concept maps and other methods. Initial findings using the Concurrency Concepts Inventory suggest that parallelism can certainly be grasped by first year students, and also show a small negative correlation between a student taking a traditional course in computer programming and that student's understanding of parallelism concepts. Further data analysis and a full focus group will be used to provide a recommendation on whether this method of introducing parallelism is effective in an engineering curriculum.

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2011

Date of Conference:

12-15 Oct. 2011