Electrical Engineering
      and Computer Sciences

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences


UC Berkeley


2008 Research Summary

PACT: The Pattern-Annotated Course Tool (PACT)

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Andrew Jacob Carle, Michael J. Clancy and John F. Canny

The Pattern-Annotated Course Tool (PACT) is a visual curriculum editor designed to aid university instructors in the process of creating curricular materials while training them to look at the design process through the lens of modern research in education. The goal is to gradually ease instructors towards the proper execution of model educational practices such as lab-centric collaboration [2], peer instruction [3], and other learner-centered methods. These techniques are typically significantly different from the standard mode of instruction in a university classroom: a room full of students focused on a single source of information (the lecturer at the front of the room).

The essential focus of PACT is on the presentation of real courses annotated with references to pedagogical patterns [4]--a type of design pattern used to describe best practices in curriculum development and delivery. Expert course designers can build representations of their courses in PACT and then share them with colleagues who are less experienced with learner-centered design. These instructors/learners can explore the expert's design and annotation in an intuitive and highly visual manner to learn about the techniques used in that real course with the aid of the exposure of the underlying pedagogical theory. Figure 1 shows a portion of CS3: Introduction to Symbolic Programming annotated in PACT. Figure 2 shows the detail of one day.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Several days of CS3 annotated and displayed in PACT. Vertical rectangles are individual days. Small horizontal rectangles are sets of activities within that day. Ovals are references to pedagogical patterns. These are linked to the activities that make up an instantiation of that pattern.

Figure 2
Figure 2: A close-up of one day in CS3 annotated and displayed in PACT. The coloring of the activities relates to the type of UC-WISE activity being used along with the role the activity is playing in any pedagogical patterns.

A. Carle, J. Canny, and M. Clancy, "PACT: A Pattern-Annotated Course Tool," ed. P. Kommers and G. Richards, Proc. World Conf. Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, Chesapeake, VA, 2006, pp. 2054-2060.
M. Clancy, N. Titterton, C. Ryan, J. Slotta, and M. Linn, "New Roles for Students, Instructors, and Computers in a Lab-based Introductory Programming Course," SIGCSE '03: Proc. SIGCSE Technical Symp. Computer Science Education, 2003, pp. 132-136.
E. Mazur, Peer Instruction: A User's Manual, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1997.
H. Sharp, M. L. Manns, and J. Eckstein, "The Pedagogical Patterns Project (poster session)," OOPSLA '00: Addendum to the 2000 Proc. Conf. Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications (Addendum), 2000, pp. 139-140. http://www.pedagogicalpatterns.org.
A. Carle, M. Clancy, and J. Canny, "Working with Pedagogical Patterns in PACT: Initial Applications and Observations," SIGCSE Bulletin, Vol. 39, No. 1, February 2007, pp. 238-242.