Specification and Scaffolding in Project-Based Learning of Systems Architecture

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant Program

Grant recipientOuldooz Baghban Karimi, School of Computing Science, Faculty of Applied Sciences

Project teamChris Kerslake, research assistant

Timeframe: October 2020 to August 2021

Funding: $5,000

Course addressed: CMPT 474 - Web Systems Architecture

Description: For this project, we plan to investigate the learning outcomes of different levels of project specification and scaffolding in Computing Science systems courses, specifically the project element of the Web Systems Architecture course (CMPT 474). Web Systems Architecture is a computer systems course that needs in-depth understanding of cloud-based systems’ architecture, and hands-on experience with public cloud platforms and solutions.

Final report: View Ouldooz Baghban Karimi's final report (PDF) >>

Questions addressed

  • What is the best level of project specification to assist students in achieving the intended learning outcomes of the project?
  • What is the impact of the project on student confidence?
  • What is the relationship between confidence building and solving more complex sets of problems?
  • What is the impact of projects on students’ confidence in technical communication?
  • Are there differences in student performance and satisfaction of individuals by gender and major?
  • What are the variations in experience within teams?
  • What are the student perceptions of their learning process through this project?

Knowledge sharing
(1) I have discussed the project element of this course, including findings and achievements, with colleagues in our department.
(2) We have already presented the design of the project, and initial findings in ITiCSE conference. It was source of great discussions, and we aim to follow up on the opportunities that came up for collaboration.
(3) We are currently preparing the final report of the work to be submitted to a SIGCSE conference
(4) I am planning to discuss the course design with colleagues from the undergraduate committee in our department.

Keywords:  Project-based learning; PBL; Scaffolding; Group-project; Multi-phase project; Web-systems Architecture; Project Specification; Scaffolded PBL