"What does a CPU have in common with a fast food restaurant?" A reflection on emphasizing the big ideas of computer science in a computer organization class

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

Abstract

While each class in a computer science curriculum serves to teach the principles and core knowledge of one domain, it is equally important that our students receive a deep understanding of the central ideas of the field that cut across sub-disciplines. In this respect, a class on computer organization provides an ideal context for concretely demonstrating some of the most important ideas in computer science. This paper describes how, with little effort, discussions of abstraction, indirection, and Turing completeness can be introduced into lectures on computer organization. We also discuss explaining the broader applications of two architecture-centric ideas, caching and pipelining. We present data from pre- and post-tests on our students learning of these concepts, demonstrating the relative difficulty of these ideas for students and identifying some of the sources of student misconceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - Frontiers in Education, 35th Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationPedagogies and Technologies for the Emerging Global Economy, FIE'05
PagesS3C-11-S3C-14
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
EventFrontiers in Education - 35th Annual Conference 2005, FIE' 05 - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Oct 19 2005Oct 22 2005

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
Volume2005
ISSN (Print)1539-4565

Other

OtherFrontiers in Education - 35th Annual Conference 2005, FIE' 05
CountryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN
Period10/19/0510/22/05

Keywords

  • Computer organization
  • Computer science
  • Concepts
  • Education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications

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