Workshop: Assessing the Integration of Parallel and Distributed Computing in Early Undergraduate Computer Science Curriculum Using Unplugged Activities
Abstract: Due to the pervasive presence of parallel and distributed computing (PDC) in most of the application domains, the need for PDC skills in computing professionals is necessary. This has inspired much interest in including PDC topics in existing computer science (CS) undergraduate curriculum, as evidenced in the ACM/IEEE joint curriculum recommendations. We address this gap by developing new active learning style PDC activities. The application and evaluation of the unplugged activities are described in this paper. The activities highlight key benefits of parallel computing, and the appropriate application of important PDC concepts. An assessment of student engagement has been utilized to measure the effectiveness of our active learning PDC modules. We determine whether the engagement differs by gender, age, and class standing (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior). Results indicated there were slight differences with respect to age and class standing. This research contributes to helping other practitioners in the CS community by providing PDC lesson modules to be integrated into their existing courses. The developed activities and the related lesson plans are intended to provide easier learning of the fundamental PDC concepts in an early undergraduate CS curriculum.