Did You Also Fall Asleep During a Principles of Programming Languages Lecture? How Did a Re-design of a PPL Course Succeed to Keep the Students Tuned-in? [Discussion paper]

Moshe Goldstein, Ariel Stulman
InSITE 2019  •  2019  •  pp. 111-117
Aim/Purpose: In this paper we wish to present a new direction for the instruction of a Principles of Programming Languages (PPL) course.

Background: Teaching PPL using the standard curriculum found that the students do not understand the overall concepts, getting lost in the abundance of minute details. We needed a way to emphasize the higher level constructs important to this body of knowledge.

Methodology: This is a course description paper, describing how we instruct a PPL course at our college.

Contribution: To share with the CS education community the approach we developed to effectively teach the very important PPL course.

Findings: Using the integrative approach presented, we believe that
• relative to the previous, and commonplace, PPL teaching approach, this is a very effective and successful way for conveying this important subject matter, and
• our new teaching approach gave the students a professional maturity that they lacked before they took the course.

Recommendations for Practitioners: Do not be scared to experiment with new ways of teaching. Do not think that you must teach the way the books tell it. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Future Research: All our insights about the use of the presented teaching approach are non-empirical. Future research should thoroughly analyze the results from teach-ing/learning theories points of view using standard CSE techniques.
principles of programming languages, CSE
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