A comparison of peer instruction and collaborative problem solving in a computer architecture course

Geoffrey L. Herman, Sushmita Azad

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

While substantial research has demonstrated that active learning pedagogies are better for learning than passive lectures, we need to understand the trade-offs between different active learning pedagogies. Computer Architecture at Midwestern University has historically been taught using active lectures, introducing content with a few clicker questions. In Fall 2018 (N = 363), short video lectures were made available to students as a supplemental resource. In Spring 2019, the instructor flipped the course, requiring students to watch the video lectures and complete an assignment before attending class. Two versions of the course were taught concurrently, using the same homework assignments, machine problems, and examinations but with different in-class pedagogies. Version SP19PI (N = 179) was taught using peer instruction. Version SP19CP (N = 73) was taught using collaborative problem solving, organizing students into teams of 3 to work on problems. Students completed surveys that measured their perceptions of time spent on the course, course difficulty, perceptions of stress, and sense of belonging. We compare students' performance on midterm exams and their noncognitive outcomes to examine the relative effects of these different active learning pedagogies.We find that both flipped offerings (peer instruction and collaborative problem solving) benefited students beyond active lectures. Peer instruction (SP19PI) made learning more efficient. Collaborative instruction (SP19CP) provided greater social support for learning and eliminated gender grade disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSIGCSE 2020 - Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages461-467
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781450367936
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 26 2020
Event51st ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2020 - Portland, United States
Duration: Mar 11 2020Mar 14 2020

Publication series

NameAnnual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITiCSE
ISSN (Print)1942-647X

Conference

Conference51st ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2020
CountryUnited States
CityPortland
Period3/11/203/14/20

Keywords

  • Active learning
  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Flipped classroom
  • Motivation
  • Peer instruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Education

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  • Cite this

    Herman, G. L., & Azad, S. (2020). A comparison of peer instruction and collaborative problem solving in a computer architecture course. In SIGCSE 2020 - Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (pp. 461-467). (Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITiCSE). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/3328778.3366819