Electrical Engineering
      and Computer Sciences

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences


UC Berkeley


2009 Research Summary

The UC-WISE Project (UC-WISE)

View Current Project Information

Michael J. Clancy, Nate Titterton1 and Andy Carle

National Science Foundation DUE-0443121 and National Science Foundation CNS-0722339

The UC-WISE project (University of California Web-based Instruction for Science and Engineering) aims:

  • to provide technology and curricula for laboratory-based higher education courses that incorporate online facilities for collaboration, inquiry learning, and assessment, and to investigate the most effective ways of integrating this technology into our courses; and
  • to allow instructors to customize courses, prototype new course elements, and collect review comments from experienced course developers.

The UC-WISE system includes a database of annotated learning objects, served by linking to the WISE learning environment developed in the School of Education, plus portals into the database for students, instructors, and master curriculum developers. Activities provided by WISE and used in a UC-WISE curriculum include online discussions, programming exercises, reading of Web-delivered text, reflection notes, journal entries, quizzes, scripted assessments, and "gated collaborations" where students critique their peers' responses to a seed topic. Instructors may view some student work (e.g., quiz responses and collaboration activities) in real time.

Project efforts fall into three categories: curriculum design and refinement, pedagogical research, and system and tool development.

  • Curriculum design and refinement: A UC-WISE version of CS 3 (Introduction to Symbolic Programming) has been in use since spring 2003. The UC-WISE CS 61B (Data Structures and Programming Methodology) has been offered four times, the most recent in spring 2008. A UC-WISE version of CS 61C (Machine Structures) was piloted in fall 2007 and is being offered again this semester. The next offering of the UC-WISE CS 61B will incorporate numerous exercises using WebJava, a new tool for scripted assessment, plus activities using the JHAVE system for program visualization. We hope to add links in all the UC-WISE courses to the Weiner Lecture Archive.

  • Pedagogical research: Inquiry into misconceptions revealed by UC-WISE curriculum activities and identification of the contribution of the various course activities to learning is ongoing (see [1]), as is the search for methods and tools to help teaching assistants to monitor their students more effectively. We have also developed end-of-term surveys for CS 61ABC and are gathering and analyzing survey data in preparation for a comprehensive study comparing UC-WISE courses to their traditionally taught counterparts. Results so far comparing the two versions of CS 61B suggests significantly improved performance on projects in the UC-WISE courses; analysis proceeds.

  • System and tool development: Comprehensive surveys of UC-WISE Student Portal users have suggested improvements in the Portal interface, and redesign and more detailed qualitative evaluation are in the planning stage. Integration of tools such as the JHAVE program visualization system and the Pattern-Annotated Course Tool (see [3]) are well along, and planning of other instructor tools for authoring and student monitoring is well underway. We are currently exploring the integration of our learning environment with Moodle, an open-source course management system.

Initial support for the project came from CITRIS; we have also received support from Hewlett-Packard. In 2005 we were awarded an NSF grant (DUE-0443121) to design and evaluate UC-WISE curricula for Java-based introductory and data structures courses. We also received an NSF CPATH grant in 2007 (CNS-0722339) to build a community around lab-centric instruction.

C. Ryan, "Analogies Are Like Bowling Balls, or Why Analogies to English Need Some Explanation to Help Students Learn Scheme," UC Berkeley EECS Technical Report, http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/2006/EECS-2006-75.html.
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 Bulletin, Vol. 35, No. 1, February 2003, pp. 132-136.
A. Carle, J. Canny, and M. Clancy, "PACT: A Pattern-Annotated Course Tool," Proc. 2006 World Conf. Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, and Telecommunications, P. Kommers and G. Richards, eds., Chesapeake, VA, AACE, 2006.
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.
N. Titterton and M. Clancy, "Adding Some Lab Time is Good, Adding More Must Be Better: The Benefits and Barriers to Lab-Centric Courses," Proc. Int. Conf. on Frontiers in Education, Las Vegas, NV, June 2007.