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A Fresh Approach in COMP100: Enhancing Student Ability to Meet Graduate Outcomes in IT and Beyond

Hazel Owen and Wayne Godfrey


Please cite as: Owen, H., & Godfrey, W. (2007). A fresh approach in COMP100: Enhancing student ability to meet graduate outcomes in IT and beyond. In P. Barr (Ed.), Foundations for the future: Working towards graduate outcomes(pp. 97118). Abu Dhabi: HCT Press.

Biographies:
Hazel Owen is Gen-education E-learning coordinator, while also teaching Research Skills and Projects, and computing at DMC. She advises on CAL issues, provides training, and develops courses. A PhD candidate, shes researching the effectiveness of blended learning applied within a Sociocultural framework. Her research interests include instructional design, blended learning and computer mediated communication. Wayne Godfrey achieved undergraduate degrees from his home country Canada - and earned a Masters of Education from USQ in 1998, specializing in curriculum design. He has worked at Dubai Men's College since 1995 and has been teaching COMP 100 for the bulk of that period. He was the HCT Curriculum Leader for the course since the role originated until the end of academic year 2006.

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1. Introduction Globally, information technology (IT) advances on a day-by-day basis with developments to its functionality and ease of use. As educators it may be considered difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a suitable level of IT literacy ourselves, let alone keep our courses current and assist students. However, perhaps the emphases of any IT course need to be not only the IT literacy itself, but larger concepts, and the way in which it can enhance the learning process, especially in the area of developmental education (including study and research skills that enable students to recognise that they need to upskill technically, and also give them the strategies to seek out relevant training or research). From consideration of the match between HCTs Graduate Outcomes (GOs) and the current COMP100 learning outcomes, it is clear that COMP100s curriculum satisfies GO1 and GO4, but fulfils few or none of the other GOs. Therefore, in the Foundations Department at Dubai Mens College (DMC) there has been a strong initiative through the development of an integrated Computer, Research Skills and Projects (CRSP) course to increase the number of supplementary study, research, and higher order thinking skills that students assimilate and apply in their Foundation Year. A further consideration is that the technical skills demonstrated by each student intake, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have increased exponentially (Godfrey, 2004; 2006). Research suggests that the computer skills level of the learner should drive the method in which a course is presented. Students with non-existent or elementary skills will require a different pedagogical approach to those with intermediate or advanced skills. This paper therefore outlines the initiatives that have been designed and implemented in the integrated CRSP course at DMC to increase the courses effectiveness in helping students meet GOs. Results and implications are referred to, and recommendations are made. 2. Situation 2.1 Global and local requirements: Pedagogical and curricula reforms Education is viewed in many societies as expenditure rather than investment (Corr, 2007). Furthermore the perceived value of education is undermined by the mismatch between what is taught and what is required (HE Maqbool Bin Ali Sultan, 2007) by societies in which graduates need to be able to cope with rapid change and shifting requirements. Therefore, at a practical level students need help to become:

Aware of the connection of what they are learning to the world around them, and the complex interconnections that exist therein; Knowledgeable about a variety of skills and concepts; Proficient at using technological tools; Self-reflective and able to identify training requirements; Skilled in using inquiry strategies; Effective in collaborating with others; Confident in selecting appropriate strategies and skills; Competent in exercising self-regulation, and Motivated to sustain study (Adapted from Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, & Soloway, 1998) 2.2 Educational context in the UAE Traditionally learning was considered the transmission of knowledge and the absorption by the learner of an ultimately knowable representation of reality. Once the information had been assimilated, it was then assumed the learner could apply it to authentic contexts outside of the learning environment (Cobb, 1994). However, The
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Arab Human Development Report (United Nations Development Programme, 2003) revealed that many Arab students (including in the UAE) can do little but memorise, recite and perfect rote learning (p. 54). The report also indicated that the pedagogical methodology is largely didactic, teacher-centered and passive, and assessments are used that require memorisation and surface knowledge. To achieve a paradigm shift that would address these issues, there needs to be unanimous adoption of a studentcentered environment incorporating an active learning and teaching approach (Seels & Glasgow, 1998). 3. Problem 3.1 Meeting changing learner needs The initial COMP100 course and its associated learning outcomes were developed to meet needs that were current and essential. However, the Ministry of Education in the UAE has been revising its educational strategy to comply with international standards, with particular focus on IT skills (UAE Ministry of Information and Culture, 2006). For example, in 2003 the UAE Ministry of Information and Culture reported the following student to computer ratios: Kindergarten 10:1 Primary school 5:1 Preparatory school 2:1 Secondary school 1:1 (p. 222)

Other initiatives that appear to have increased student knowledge include the IT Education Project (ITEP - launched in 2000) in particular through its associated Web site www.itep.ae (UAE Ministry of Information and Culture, 2005). COMP100 leaders throughout the HCT system have accordingly identified that many learners are arriving already equipped with skills (see Figure 1 and Figure 2) that are currently taught in the Foundations level COMP100 course (Godfrey, 2006).
Computer Access and Usage (2003-2004 / 226 participants)

Studied computing at school 61%

Have computer at home 93%

Have Internet access at home 77%

Figure 1: Proportion of computer access, formal computing tuition, and Internet access at DMC

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Internet Usage (2005 DMC Student Intake)

>6 years 29%

< 6 months 6%

6-12 months 7% 1-3 years 16%

4-6 years 42%

Figure 2 No of years experience using the Internet( DMC) The method of delivering a course is affected by the skills that students arrive with (Tsai, 2004). Therefore, in response to changes students entering the HCT are displaying, it is advisable to adapt curricula and teaching methodology. In particular, it is important to integrate content courses so that students are encouraged to develop multiple representations of ideas while engaging in activities that require them to apply the target concepts and skills (Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, & Soloway, 1998) 3.2 The COMP100 course Software application training has previously been described as a systematically planned teaching and learning process, the aim of which is to enable users to handle particular functions of an application [sic] software independently (Bannert, 2000, p. 336). This approach is reflected in the COMP100 course outline that states: Students are introduced to the basic concepts of computing and acquire the skills necessary to use a personal computera variety of application programs[and] the features of Windows based word processors, presentation software and spreadsheets. Operating System concepts are introduced in a Windows environment, as is the use of the Internet. Consistent with the HCT learning model, course delivery includes materials and processes that develop global awareness, self understanding and professional attitudes and practices. The development and recognition of ethical standards is incorporated into the learning process (Higher Colleges of Technology, 2001). It could be argued, though, that these course objectives are incomplete and do not emphasise the necessity of being able to evaluate, select, and apply the functions. Foundations computing courses now need to be less about teaching students the basic skills of using an application, and more about teaching them the problem solving, time management, project planning, and associated study skills that they will require for further study in an IT discipline or in other subjects. This factor is recognised by the HCT which indicates that during the process of helping students to develop cognitive and language skills, it is necessary for the content and level of materials[to] move from basic information based tasks towards more complex processing and expression of ideas (Higher Colleges of Technology, 2002, p. 7).

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4. Solution 4.1 The Integrated Foundations Programme The Foundations programme at DMC historically comprised four discrete courses: Mathematics, Computing, Arabic and English. Research and study skills were separated into skill focused units (e.g. time-management) and presented as part of each course and through weekly sessions administered by the Learning Center (see Figure 3 below). Some of the issues with this approach were sparse communication between courses, non-integrated projects that were completed in isolation, assessment overload, and minimal recycling and reinforcement of key skills. As a result, Foundations students were not graduating with the necessary level of study, research and critical thinking skills to study effectively at Higher Diploma level and beyond.

Figure 3: Foundations courses prior to their integration with CRSP (Young, 2005) Consequently, Foundations faculty at DMC designed and implemented an integrated programme that incorporated research, study and critical thinking skills in a dynamic interrelationship with the four main Foundations courses.

Figure 4: Interdisciplinary, integrated Foundations approach (Moran & Owen, 2007, Adapted from HCT Numeracy Process Model, UAE Ministry of Education, 2005)

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Over time, the blended learning course that was initially Research Skills and Projects (RS&P - see Figure 3) was developed into Computer, Research Skills and Projects (CRSP see Figure 4) a course that has four fully integrated projects completed over the forty-week academic year. Figure 5 illustrates the mutually supportive dynamic in Foundations. The projects recycle processes as well as giving students myriad opportunities to apply concepts and skills from all the courses thereby incorporating critical thinking and problem solving at a level of complexity appropriate to the level of thestudents (Higher Colleges of Technology, 2001). Every project has at least one aspect that meets the learning outcomes for ENGL070, Math070, and COMP100 (and Arabic reflects the projects through topic and associated learning outcomes) thereby encouraging the transfer of their learned skills to a variety of contexts that mirror the reality of the workplace and the wider world (Higher Colleges of Technology, 2002, p. 7) (see Figure 5 below).

Figure 5: Application of skills, concepts and learning strategies (Moran & Owen, 2007) 4.2 Blended learning One definition of blended learning is the effective combination of modes of delivery, models of teaching and styles of learning (Proctor 2003). Students entering the Foundations course are most familiar with didactic, passive learning environments (to the left of Figure 6) and therefore require a heavily scaffolded approach to help them cope with the transition into a more student-centered blended learning environment (Owen & Durham, 2006).

Figure 6: Blended learning continuum in an educational context (Heinze & Procter, 2004)
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Blended learning (employed within a framework of sociocultural theory) that uses Information and communication technology (ICT) has great potential to enhance learning outcomes (Gross & Wolff, 2001). Waxman, Lin, and Michko (2003) carried out a metaanalysis of recent ICT research projects, and their findings established that teaching and learning with technology has a small, positive significant effect on student outcomes [including cognitive and affective outcomes] when compared to traditional instruction (p. 14). Scaffolding, a central concept of sociocultural theory, includes an essential role for teachers (McLoughlin & Oliver, 1998) because it requires them to create opportunities for learners to interact with tasks, peers, and their community (Hausfather, 1996). Supported interaction can create a bridge across the gap (Zone of Proximal Development ZPD) between a learners existing knowledge or skills, and desired educational goals (see Figure 7 below) (Owen, Young, Lawrence, & Compton, in press).

Figure 7: Diagrams showing the process of ZPD (Johnson, 2001) Applying these principles, CRSP utilises two hours per week face-to-face classroom sessions, a one hour per week face-to-face tutorial, synchronous interactions with teachers and peers using MSN, and access to the learning management system (LMS), WebCT. Alongside a suite of tools that provide scaffolding (see Table 1), documents, models, examples, explanations, instructions, learning outcomes and rubrics are all available on WebCT. A variety of formats and media are used to help meet differing student learning styles: visual, aural, read / write, kinaesthetic, multimodal (Fleming & Bonwell, 1998). Strategy / Tool MSN chat Scaffolding / Enhancements provided / Outcome Skills Acquired Communication skills Interpersonal skills Global awareness Problem solving Self-directed learning Appropriacy of language / formality Awareness of audience Life-long learning

Students communicate with peers & teachers


from any location with Internet access Encourages shy students to communicate Increases access to all teachers Encourages students to refine problem / question before making contact Easier for inter-gender communication Saved chat history can be accessed later to revisit instructions & answers Empowers students Meets the individual needs of learners Opportunities to communicate for authentic purposes, & practise range of language functions

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WebCT (learning management system)

Provides searchable, central location for

Project management Empowerment communication tools, calendar, quizzes etc, & a Self-directed learning place to upload homework / assignments Gives access to all models, examples, videos, podcasts, materials, resources, instructions & rubrics used during 40 week course Enables students to consult & retrieve resources 24/7, from anywhere Empowers students as they do not have to wait for teacher to reveal tasks / timetable More advanced / motivated students can access / complete work ahead of time Enables students who have to travel or be unavoidably absent to keep up with course requirements Gives students overview of 40-week semester Time management Has reminders of homework required Project management Gives final project deadlines Self-directed learning Provides live links from calendar directly to task, rubric, instructions, tool, or explanation referred to in calendar postings Time management Self-reflection Awareness of concept of time management Global awareness Project planning Problem solving Analytical skills

Calendar (in LMS)

Late policy Catches students attention where verbal or written when warning may not students Provides opportunities to discuss concept of time submit work management and associated strategies - following Highlights importance of time management in a scheme is study / work environment applied (see Raises students awareness that time management Figure 10) is important Demonstrates that work submitted late (without documented reason(s)) has consequences Encourages self-reflection Laptops Allow students to collect and collate original research data outside classrooms Encourages students to be organised (e.g. file naming conventions and file management) Raises global awareness (e.g. security issues such as viruses) Assists students to take responsibility for their own learning (e.g. regular backups) Catches students attention where a verbal or written warning may not Provides opportunities to discuss the concept of plagiarism and its negative effect on learning Raises students awareness that plagiarising has consequences Encourages self-reflection

Data gathering Organisation Production and presentation of artifacts Communication skills

Zero tolerance for plagiarism (mark of 0 given to both parties for any incident of copying) DMC Learning Center Web site

Self-reflection Awareness of plagiarism Plagiarism avoidance strategies

Provides support for carrying out on-line searches Research skills Gives access to resources (students and teachers) Awareness of reliable Provides tips on research skills and strategies resources Plagiarism avoidance Allows direct communication with librarians strategies

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Peer assessment / grading / feedback

Encourages self-reflection and awareness Introduces the conventions for giving constructive feedback Fosters attention to detail Reduces the marking load for teachers (time is focussed on the task rather than grading) Allows more time for face-to-face feedback Raises awareness of appropriacy Encourages multiple revisions

Analytical skills Language skills (vocabulary and functions) Appropriacy /register Comparison of data Communication skills Interpersonal skills Self reflective skills

Dreamweaver / Access / PowerPoint / Word / Excel / Publisher / Microsoft Picture Manager Use of Camtasia (screen capture tool that enables instructors to make videos)

Provides students with a suite of tools to produce Technical skills artifacts with real-world relevance Illustration of Enables students to present their research, share application of their ideas, get feedback information Artifacts are assessable and revisable Self-awareness Lifelong learning Awareness of appropriacy, audience, and purpose Global awareness

Breaks down tasks & represents them step-by

step Provides for range of learning styles Consistency of approach Empowerment of students 24/7 access Meeting individual needs of learners Reinforcement / revision Accompanying audio & text complex processes presented in medium that allows students to watch / listen as many times as need

Problem solving Self-directed learning Time management Autonomy

Table 1: Scaffolded tools provided for learners participating in CRSP blended learning course (Owen, 2007, adapted from Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, & Soloway, 1998) Examples and models are used extensively in the CRSP course to provide students with a clear idea of what the assessment expectations are for each task. For example, in semester one, students are given a model for their first presentation (uploaded to WebCT for students to access), which demonstrates best practise for PowerPoint slides. By semester two, fewer models are used, and examples are provided which students have the flexibility to adapt and change. The final project has no example thus encouraging students to apply all they have learned in the other three projects. 4.3 The CRSP Course - Working toward HCT graduate outcomes The interdisciplinary CRSP Foundations programme requires students to complete a series of assessed and non-assessed tasks set within four key projects: The Country Project, The Famous Person Project, The Career Project, and the Inventions, Developments and Change Project. Students, through a cumulative process, produce one main artifact per project which consists of a variety of elements, including associated computing tasks. The process is experiential and iterative and is designed to help students meet the HCT graduate outcomes as represented in Figure 9 below. Students artifacts are assessed by each of the content instructors, as well as the CRSP instructors, thereby reducing overload, while also enhancing the learning process, maximizing opportunities for hands-on activities, and emphasising a sense of purpose.

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Ramsden (1992) argues that assessment is about measuring student learning and diagnosing specific misunderstandings in order to help students to learn more effectively. Thus, the CRSP course, rather than relying purely on standardised tests which focus on skills in isolation, uses alternative assessments that have some value beyond the classroom (Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, & Soloway, 1998, p. 285). CRSP objectives are dynamically related to other disciplines, and as a result of this approach, students develop new understandings about IT and its wider application, as well as considering the specific uses of software applications and how to evaluate the best one for a task. By using critical thinking and decision making skills students are encouraged to transfer and apply them during subsequent years of study as well as in the workplace and the community.

Figure 8: Model of relationship between integrated CRSP course and achievement of HCT graduate outcomes (adapted from Moran & Owen, 2007) 4.4 The Career Project (GOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8) What follows is a description of the fully-integrated Career Project that has been run as part of the CRSP course in the first ten weeks of semester two in the 2003-2004, 20042005, and 2005-2006 academic years. Task 1 Vocabulary: Initially key vocabulary relevant to careers is introduced and students use online dictionaries to collate a record in English and Arabic (using MSWord). A set of associated activities are provided including tactile tasks such as flash cards and board games. Task 2 Podcast and analysis Task: Students commence a task that helps them select the specialisation they are going to study after they have graduated from Foundations. Saaty (1996) advises that one should apply mathematics to decision making, whereby dissecting a problem into its constituent parts, then establishing priority by ranking is a comprehensive way to look at a problem. Foundations students at DMC are not ready to undertake a quantitative process of multi-criteria decision making, so a scaffolded approach is adopted to assist their decision-making (Moran & Owen, 2007).
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To help students identify and prioritise components, the CRSP team created a podcast and linked it to an analysis task in WebCT. The podcast is entitled Career Considerations and includes a recording of six DMC Foundations students who appeared on a local Talkback radio station, Dubai Eye. After listening to the Podcast, students are required to:

a. b. c.

Identify reasons given by the students for wanting work in particular careers; List the things that they will consider before choosing a specialisation to study; and Prioritise this list of considerations. Task 3 - Using MS Excel to organise and display authentic research data: Students complete an off-campus task which requires them to interview people in the workplace and gather data on employees occupations, skills, training and education. Data gathered by students also includes respondents nationalities and job designation, and the sector they are employed in. Students collate and sort the data, and then use MS Excel to produce graphs that display, for example, the representation of nationalities working in the public and private sectors. In addition, students are asked to answer questions about the hypothetical consequences of the collected responses in connection to their respective career decisions and where their specialization choice may lead them. For that reason, the task was specifically designed to encourage the use of critical thinking skills and to exploit the use of technology in displaying and formulating data. Task 4 - Interactive Web-based simulation activity: Information provided by the academic and technical departments at DMC was used by the CRSP team to script scenarios which requires students to simultaneously read and listen to information about different students and the course options available to them, analyse the various options, and, using a list of key considerations, decide which course is best suited to the individual. Also included is specific information about the job opportunities available following graduation from DMC. However, because individual students do not possess a sufficiently detailed understanding of the UAE governments policy of Emiratisation, the CRSP course includes several tasks which require students to find out about that policy. One example of these tasks is a WebCT quiz that was developed using three key articles discussing government Emiratisation employment objectives and industrys adherence to these quotas. Students are required to gather, analyse and perform calculations on data, to determine which industries were subject to national quotas, the specific percentage quotas set, and how these matched industry practice. In addition, students research which courses at DMC lead students to jobs in these industries. The research articles and questions are part of the WebCT quiz, (WebCT automatically grades completed quizzes and provides students with specific feedback). After completing the quiz, students, through group discussion, are encouraged to reflect on the effectiveness and shortfalls of the policy and the degree to which Emiratisation is important for them when making career decisions. As a result of this integrated task, students are able to add Emiratisation to their considerations list and expand their decision making approach. Students include their conclusions in a career project fact sheet which is used to scaffold their research. The fact sheet identifies factors fundamental to the topic that students need to research. Research that students carry out (alongside sessions in how and why to quote, paraphrase, summarise and reference) is in turn used in a timed essay assessment, final PowerPoint presentation and an assessed Web site artifact (Moran & Owen, 2007). Task 5 PowerPoint presentation: Students form groups of three or four, and then select a topic from a list that ranges from the steps for writing curriculum vitae to a career that group members are interested in. Using research data they
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have collected in their fact sheets (using research skills, resources and evaluative strategies), along with strategies they have learned as part of career workshops and department presentations, students create a PowerPoint and prepare a formal ten-minute presentation that is given in front of their class. The rubric for the presentation includes criteria that reflects the best practices for PowerPoint design and formal presentations that were introduced in semester one. Students ability to work as part of a team and take a leadership role is taken into consideration, as is the inclusion of research skills such as referencing. Task 6 Career Web site: Using Macromedia Dreamweaver, MS Picture manager, MS Excel, and (where students have the skills and the inclination) Macromedia Flash, Adobe Photoshop, and other multi-media software programs, students design and build a career Web site. The Web site has to include:

an Index page (with an introduction and description of the site); autobiography in HTML; CV in HTML; either: a) A description of working in the UAE and Emiratisation; OR b) The course the student is going to study in HD; OR c) the students current job; optional (to be considered for the A+ grade): Collated data, summary and interpretation of interviews with working people; math task page; a reference list page (referencing all resources including images, multi-media, and personal interviews / communications)

Tasks are cumulative and are completed at regular intervals throughout the ten weeks. For example, students attend workshops showing them how to write their CV in week three, and then type up their own in MS Word, upload it into the WebCT homework drop box, and receive feedback on it. Time is then given for revision and conversion into HTML before the student includes it as a page in his Web site (which is submitted at the beginning of week 11). 5. Evaluation 5.1 The research study To enhance the efficacy of the CRSP course an ongoing research study has been conducted which has collected a range of qualitative and quantitative data, while also gathering attitudinal and evaluative feedback (Silverman, 2001). The quantity of data that has been collected, collated, analysed and interpreted is substantial and reference is only made to results and findings when they bear relevance to COMP100. 5.2 Procedure Data has been collected in the 2003-2004, 2004-2005, 2005-2006 academic years and semester one of 2006-2007. Study participants were Higher Diploma Foundations students, faculty teaching on the CRSP course, supervisors, and faculty teaching content courses. Data collection tools included interviews, focus groups, surveys, statistics from WebCT, assessments, and documents associated with the CRSP course. By using a combination of research approaches and tools it was felt that the development of computing skills could be studied, while also taking into account improvement in metacognitive strategies. 5.3 Research Findings and Implications Findings correspond to the general findings of similar research studies whereby student achievement is at least as high, and often higher, [than] in traditional classrooms (Bossert, 1988-1989, p. 225). The column Supplementary Skills in Appendix 1 clearly illustrates that the increased focus on the study, information literacy, and critical

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thinking skills has increased the ability of COMP100 to satisfy a much larger range of GOs at a basic level, which can then be built upon once students graduate from Foundations. Feedback collected from interviews, focus groups, and surveys with students and faculty can be divided into ten main categorical statements:

1)Students comprehend the integrated projects in the CRSP course as having real

purpose (i.e. adding to skills that they will use in further study and in their careers), while also enhancing their computing skills and heightening awareness of appropriate selection of software applications. 2)Applying concepts and skills learned in core Foundations courses to authentic tasks, coupled with integrated assessment tasks, is motivational and constructive. 3)The production of a diverse range of authentic artifacts using variety of software applications is stimulating. 4)The integrated CRSP programme approach is effective at fostering research, study, and critical thinking skills acquisition. 5)The skills acquired in HD Foundations CRSP course are being applied by students who graduate to HD. 6)When task completion expectations are high students are challenged by these expectations and a higher quality of work is produced and submitted. 7)The vast majority of students (93.8%) believe that the CRSP WebCT course is presented professionally and is a good way to supply information, host tools, examples, models, and time-management assistance. In particular, the Camtasia videos are used extensively by the majority (85.4%) of students and faculty. 8)Practical and technical problems can be frustrating but these are accepted as an integral, albeit negative, aspect to using technology. 9)Most students prefer to work in groups, although it depends on the type of task and whether they choose their own group or the teacher allocates group members. 10) A small minority (15.2%) of student prefer to use paper based resources. Recommendations from stakeholder feedback have been implemented as part of an iterative approach and have therefore resulted in the further incorporation of skills, recycling of key concepts and vocabulary, as well as increased focus on integrated assessment. Furthermore, because CRSP objectives are dynamically related to other disciplines, students have developed new understandings about IT and its wider application, as well as considering the specific uses of software applications and how to evaluate the best one for a task.

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Pass / Fail Grades (2003-2007, DMC)

250

200

29 55

33

46

Number of Students

150 24 75 85

66

63

100

54

47 55 50 56 1 4 0 2003 2004 2005 2006 40 7 12 12 18 17 38

49

25 28

2007

Year of Graduation
F D C B A

Figure 9: Comparison of grades per graduation year (CRSP was introduced in 2003-2004 academic year) The CRSP course was piloted at DMC in the 2003-2004 academic year (year of graduation 2004). Figure 9 above shows that the pilot year was successful as, even though the failure rate increased from the previous academic year, there was a large increase in the achievement of A and B grades. This trend has continued except for the 2005-2006 year where the failure rate is observed to have increased. However, this appears to be an anomalous year as the pass rate of graduates from ENGL070 and MATH070 were also low for that cohort. Furthermore, even in a year where the intake displayed a comparatively low pass rate CRSP still successfully graduated 80% of students, with 49% achieving either an A or B grade. This indicates that the use of strategies and scaffolding such as video is highly effective in teaching the required technical skills, even though students may be struggling with the language of instruction. Furthermore, through this approach, students gain study and learning skills that will actually assist them with second language acquisition, and perhaps without them the overall CRSP failure rate would have been higher. At the other end of the spectrum, CRSP is effective in extending the more advanced students, keeping them interested and motivated throughout the academic year, even when they have entered Foundations with a high level of technical skills. The slight increase in failure rate in 2003-2004 (year of graduation 2004), 2004-2005 (year of graduation 2005), and 2006-2007 (year of graduation 2007) (see Figure 9), in spite of a higher level of technical skills in the intakes, suggests that the change of focus in CRSP is a steep learning curve for students. Also, because of the experiential approach encountered by students, it is necessary for outcomes to be encountered, reflected upon, and reacted to. Therefore, for example, semester one pass rates are comparably low, but show a significant increase in the second semester.

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Results of Zero Tolerance to Plagiarism / Late Policy in CRSP: Change in Student Behaviour (2005-2006)
60

50

Students showing improvement in grades after 10 weeks

Students showing improvement in grades after 10 weeks

Students showing improvement in grades after 10 weeks

40

Improvement in grades after 10 weeks

Students with zero

30

Students with zero

Students with zero

Students with zero

20

10

0 1 Raw data and analysis carried out by Wayne Godfrey 2 3 4 Variables: Students not checking grades and feedback regulary

HD Foundations Sections
(Random Selection)

Figure 10: Improvement of grades in classes where a zero tolerance policy was applied to plagiarised CRSP submissions There is a strong correlation between course work completion and success in the final exam - those students who attend classes and complete the course work, pass the course. More interesting, is that there is also a correlation of the grade achieved in the overall course work, and the exam grade (on average only a 5% or less difference). However, one of the problems facing HD Foundations faculty is student reluctance to complete homework or assignments outside of the classroom, and to submit original work on time. Research carried out in the public school system in the same academic year revealed that homework is rarely assigned to students, or it is assigned with no expectation that it will be completed. In response to this issue, in the 2005-2006 academic year, CRSP faculty implemented a very strict late policy. Specifically, students receive a 10% reduction in grades for handing assignments late on the due date, 30% on the day following the due date, 60% for two days late and zero for three or more days late. Moreover, if students copy each others work on weekly assignments both students receive zero. There are also certain key assignments where a zero grade is awarded if a student completes the work without showing competence in the key teaching point being practiced. Transparency ensures that there are no surprises for students as awareness is raised through group discussions, readily-available documentation, and regular reinforcement. The analysis of results considered whether the result of receiving a zero grade leads to a change in student behaviour in subsequent work submitted. Specifically, does a zero grade lead to a better score on the next assignment? Research was carried out with four randomly selected sections F9, F10, F11 and F12 two of which were evening students sections. The results of the following assignments were analysed:

ten MS Excel weekly assignments; WebCT submissions of semester 1 and semester 2 Web sites; and ten weeks of research skills and projects weekly assignments.

Results show that on average students subsequently improve their grade after receiving a zero score 71 % of the time (see Figure 10). Noteworthy is that in the end of year Student Teacher Evaluation Report 87% of students from the four sections strongly agreed / agreed that This teacher is fair when he/she grades my work. This feedback indicates that students are aware of the purposes behind the policies, especially as

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participants in focus groups also say that they are aware of plagiarism avoidance strategies and that their time-management skills have improved. Hence, strategies such as the late policy help encourage students to complete and upload work. Furthermore, tasks are broken into steps and the completion of each one carries a grade which counts toward the final COMP100 result. This ongoing assessment allows plenty of opportunities for timely formative feedback, as well as giving students a clear picture of their progress. One issue that has been identified by COMP100 course leaders is that the current curriculum does not account for software in use at various colleges that students are expected to be able to use[including] WebCT itself, SharePoint, Outlook and Calendar, Portal (and e mail) (Godfrey, 2006, p.2). The CRSP integrated programme approach helps address the problem, because, with the use of tools such as Camtasia videos, students are able to work at their own pace, in a self-directed manner, outside of the class. Thus the basic skills are learned, freeing up the instructor to facilitate a wider range of concepts and skills and maximising the support offered to more challenged students. Furthermore, with the skills integrated into the projects, students who wish to use applications such as PhotoShop, and other multi-media applications are able to do so. Marking rubrics (that focus on the process as well as the product) have been written with enough flexibility to recognise and reward extra effort and a higher level of technical / creative skill. The limitations of the data referred to above include issues of reliability, validity and generalisability. Further study is required before dependable recommendations can be made about the effectiveness of integrated programmes. The informal data collected as part of this study, nevertheless, appear promising. 6. Conclusion The CRSP course integrates the COMP100 curriculums objectives and learning outcomes, with the HCT graduate outcomes, in a fluid, flexible course that has been designed for Emirati students and their specific needs as learners (Beare, 2000). Attitude and motivation play a central part in the success of HD Foundations students, and even if a student arrives with a high level of technical skills, this does not guarantee their success in CRSP. Assignments still have to be submitted on time, instructions followed, problems solved, and plagiarism avoided. A high level of experiential, scaffolded, learning with regular feedback helps students to remain motivated, while self-reflective activities raise their awareness of the skills that they are learning and applying. The relevance of both content and skills to current and future learning are emphasised along with future workplace competencies a process consistently reenforced through realistic examples and tasks. As a result, students are likely to find the transition to tertiary education much smoother, and will benefit even more from courses such as the integrated CRSP course. The role of the teacher in the CRSP course is less a provider of knowledge, and more of a facilitator and guide. Some students, with their expectations of their own role and that of the teacher, find it extremely challenging to make the adjustment to a more selfdirected approach in spite of the heavily scaffolded iterative approach. Nevertheless, ultimately, learners are encouraged to adapt to a new learning culture where research, original production, and creativity are particularly valued. The CRSP course is subject to regular evaluation which is used to improve and refine it through an ongoing process of research and development. The easily adaptable format means that it has the flexibility to be used in the variety of educational settings within the HCT system, the Gulf region, and possibly at other institutions around the world. The most important factor, however, is that even though it is necessary for students to pass COMP100 to graduate from the college, it is also necessary that the course works toward the HCT graduate outcomes with close reference to government and industry requirements. The blended learning approach is valuable as it provides a supported shift

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toward self-directed learning that recognises the importance of the training and empowerment of students (HE Sheikh Nahayan Mubarak Al Nahayan, 2007). Consequently, students are more likely to be effective in their course of choice at DMC, but more importantly they are equipped with skills that will help them to be successful in their life after graduation. Perhaps it is the beginning of a shift in focus whereby the skills required for functioning at a tertiary level lead and shape the courses, rather than the other way around.

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7. References Bannert, M. (2000). The effects of training wheels and self-learning materials in software training. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 16(4), 336-346. Barr, R. B., & Tagg, J. (1995). From teaching to learning: A new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change, 27(6), 12-25. Beare, H. (2000). Creating the Future School. London: Routledge Falmer. Bossert, S. T. (1988-1989). Cooperative activities in the classroom. Review of Research in Education, 15, 225-252. Chomsky, N. (1989). Necessary illusions: Thought control in democratic societies. Toronto: CBC Enterprises. Christe, B. (2003). Designing online courses to discourage dishonesty. Educause Quarterly(4), 54-58. Cobb, P. (1994). Where is the mind? Constructivist and Sociocultural perspectives on mathematical development. Educational Researcher, 23(7), 13-20. Corr, P. (2007). What are the characteristics that the globalized workplace increasingly expect and demand of graduates from universities and colleges?, Education without borders world forum: Reframing higher education. Dubai, UAE. Costa, A. (2001). Developing minds: A resource book for teaching thinking (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Crook, C. (1994). Computers and the Collaborative Experience of Learning. London: Routledge. DeBourgh, G. (2003). Predictors of student satisfaction in distance-delivered graduate nursing courses: What matters most? Journal of Professional Nursing, 19(3), 149163. Erlendsson, J. (1991). Student motivation. Retrieved May 01, 2005, from http://www.hi.is/~joner/eaps/wh_motia.htm Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1994). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing critical features from and instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-72. Fleming, N., & Bonwell, C. C. (1998). VARK: A guide to learning styles. Retrieved 2 January, 2005, from http://www.vark-learn.com/english/index.asp Godfrey, W. (2004). COMP100: Curriculum leader final course report. Dubai: Higher Colleges of Technology. Godfrey, W. (2006). COMP100: Curriculum leader final course report. Dubai: Higher Colleges of Technology. Hall, J. W. (1996). The educational paradigm shift: Implications for ICDE and the distance learning community. Open Praxis, 2, 27-36. Hausfather, S. J. (1996). Vygotsky and schooling: Creating a social context for learning. Action in Teacher Education, 18, 1-10. Gross, A., & Wolff, D. (2001). A multimedia tool to develop learner autonomy. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 14(3-4), 233-249. Heinze, A., & Proctor, C. (2004). Reflections on the use of blended learning. Paper presented at the Education in a Changing Environment, University of Salford, UK. Retrieved June 10 2005, from the Salford University Web site: http://www.edu.salford.ac.uk/her/proceedings/papers/ah_04.rtf. Higher Colleges of Technology. (2006). The HCT Learning Model. Abu Dhabi: Instructional Media Production. Higher Colleges of Technology. (2002). Mission statement. Abu Dhabi: Higher Colleges of Technology. Higher Colleges of Technology. (2001). COMP100 Course Outline. Retrieved February 11, 2007, from www.cms.hct.ac.ae Hurley, G. C. (2003). Towards the 'Smart State': The teaching and learning of thinking skills. Unpublished Doctor of Education, Griffith University, Brisbane. Inglis, D. (1997). Salience hierarchy in a Molbog text. Journal of Translation and Textlinguistics, 9, 1-14.
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Johnson, E. M. (2001). Sociocultural principles and instructional design. Paper presented at the Computer Assisted Language Learning in the Classroom, University of Waikato, Hamilton, NZ. Krajcik, J., Blumenfeld, P., Marx, R., & Soloway, E. (1998). Instructional, curricular, and technological supports for inquiry. In J. Minstell & E. Van Zee (Eds.), Inquiry into inquiry: Science learning and teaching (pp. 282-315). Washington DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science Press. Maqbool Bin Ali Sultan (HE). (2007). What are the characteristics that the globalized workplace increasingly expect and demand of graduates from universities and colleges? Education without borders world forum: Reframing higher education. Dubai, UAE. Martin, A. (Artist). (2005). RS&P and its integration with Foundations. Unpublished diagram. Dubai Mens College. McLoughlin, C., & Oliver, R. (1998). Maximizing the language and learning link in computer learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 29(2), 125-136. Milken, M. (2007). What are the characteristics that the globalized workplace increasingly expect and demand of graduates from universities and colleges?, Education without borders world forum: Reframing higher education. Dubai, UAE. Moran, D., & Owen, H. (2007). Transforming students' approaches to learning and applying mathematics. Paper presented at the Learning technologies and mathematics Middle East conference, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman. Murch, D. ., & Muirhead, B. (2005). Insights into promoting critical thinking in online classes. Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(6), 33-48. HE Sheikh Nahayan Mubarak Al Nahayan. (2007). What are the characteristics that the globalized workplace increasingly expect and demand of graduates from universities and colleges?, Education without borders world forum: Reframing higher education. Dubai, UAE. National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. Owen, H. (2005). Sociocultural theory: An interpretative framework for computer assisted language learning? In J.-B. Son & S. O'Neill (Eds.), Enhancing learning and teaching: Pedagogy, technology and language (pp. 195-214). Flaxton, Australia: Post Pressed. Owen, H., & Allardice, R. (2007). Past, Present and Future: Diploma English blended learning in practice, E-learning plans at Dubai Men's College. Dubai Mens College. Owen, H., & Durham, E. (2006). Study skills issues addressed through computer-aided learning - within a tertiary educational environment in the UAE. Paper presented at the Ideas in Motion: The 7th E-learning forum, University of Sharjah. Owen, H., Young, C., Lawrence, G., & Compton, T. (In press). Designing and implementing a collaborative writing project within a Wiki. In 7th Annual English Language Teaching Conference - Working with ELT Materials: From Design to Implementation. Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman. Procter, C. (2003). Blended Learning in Practice. Paper presented at the Education in a Changing Environment, University of Salford, UK. Ramsden, P. (1992). Learning to teach in higher education. London: Routledge. Saaty, Thomas L. Mathematics and Multicriteria Decision Making. Mathematics Awareness Month (Apr. 1996). 12 Mar. 2007 <http://www.mathaware.org/mam/96/resources/saaty.html>. Seels, B., & Glasgow, Z. (1998). Making Instructional Design Decisions (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. Tharp, R. G., & Gallimore, R. (1988). Rousing Minds to Life: Teaching, Learning, and Schooling in Social Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tsai, M.-H. (2004). The effects of four different strategies of information presentation in software training. Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy in Education, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida.

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UAE Ministry of Education. Higher Colleges of Technology. Appendix. Math 0155 Course Outline. Abu Dhabi: Higher Colleges of Technology, 2005. UAE Ministry of Information and Culture. (2006). The United Arab Emirates Yearbook 2006. Dubai: Trident Press. UAE Ministry of Information and Culture. (2005). The United Arab Emirates Yearbook 2005. Dubai: Trident Press. UAE Ministry of Information and Culture. (2004). The United Arab Emirates Yearbook 2004. Dubai: Trident Press. UAE Ministry of Information and Culture. (2003). The United Arab Emirates Yearbook 2003. Dubai: Trident Press. United Nations Development Programme. (2003). Arab human development report 2003: Building a knowledge society (No. 92-1-126157-0). New York: United Nations Publications. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Warschauer, M., & Meskill, C. (2000). Technology and second language learning. In J. W. Rosenthal (Ed.), Handbook of undergraduate second language education (pp. 303-318). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. W a x m a n , H. C., & H u a n g , S. L. (1 9 9 6 ) . Cl a s s r o o m in s t r u c t i o n di f f e r e n c e s b y le v e l o f t e c h n o l o g y u s e in m i d d l e sc h o o l mathematics. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 14 , 1 4 7 - 1 5 9 . W a x m a n , H . C., Li n , M.- F., & Mi c h k o , G. M. (20 0 3). A Meta- Analysis of the effectiveness of teaching and learning with technology on student outcomes , fr o m h t t p : / / w w w . n c r e l . o r g / t e c h / e f f e c t s 2 / i n d e x . h t m l Young, C. (2005). Foundations: Past, present, future. (Presentation), Foundations HCT System Forum. Dubai Men's College, Dubai.

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Appendix 1: COMP100: Learning Outcomes - Graduate Outcomes (GOs from The HCT Learning Model 2006) COMP100 Course description: Students are introduced to the basic concepts of computing and acquire the skills necessary to use a personal computer. Students learn how to use a computer and a variety of application programs through hands-on experience. This course offers the opportunity to learn the features of Windows based word processors, presentation software and spreadsheets. Operating System concepts are introduced in a Windows environment, as is the use of the Internet. A number of terms (vocabulary) specific to Information Technology are introduced. Consistent with the HCT learning model, course delivery includes materials and processes that develop global awareness, self understanding and professional attitudes and practices. The development and recognition of ethical standards is incorporated into the learning process. Class and project work incorporate critical thinking and problem solving at a level of complexity appropriate to the level of the course and students. Leadership and teamwork are encouraged through the use of group and pair work. Self-management is developed through opportunities for both independent and individualized learning (Higher Colleges of Technology, 2001, retrieved from www.cms.hct.ac.ae February 11 2007). Graduate Outcomes 1. Communications & Information Literacy Some examples: COMP100 Learning Outcomes fit Recognize and use common computing terms, at an introductory level Differentiate between software & hardware, operating systems & application programmes Demonstrate Internet skills Use Internet in compliance with ethics of HCT Use terminology associated with Internet Apply referencing of Internet sources as developed in English courses and / or the Learning Centre Some examples: Supplementary Skills / CRSP

Searching for information (strategies / methods)

2. Critical and creative thinking

3. Global awareness and citizenship

Recognising problems & requesting assistance by using communication tools Searching using key terms; evaluating results Communicating with peers & teachers via MSN, email & face-to-face contact Referencing: Why & how Awareness of plagiarism Experiential learning activities & self-reflection Discussion of use of different tools & strategies Decision analysis Raising student awareness of critical analysis & higher order thinking Basic critical analysis of IT concepts Research/discussion of invention, development or change Awareness of impact of IT, globally & locally Self-generation of authentic data from a multi-national

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community.

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Graduate Outcomes 4. Technological literacy

Some examples: COMP100 Learning Outcomes fit Demonstrate correct keyboarding technique Use Windows operating system to perform disk and file related operations Use a compression utility Utilize the Print capabilities Use header and footer in files Design and produce documents (inc. multipage documents) Use Templates Manipulate text and insert elements Create & modify a table Create, Modify and Format a Spreadsheet Produce a PowerPoint presentation Demonstrate basic Internet skills and practices

Some examples: Supplementary Skills / CRSP

Use scaffolding to meet task/project requirements Understand & select appropriately from IT suite

5. Self-management and independent learning

6. Teamwork and leadership

7. Vocational competencies

8. Mathematical literacy

Integrated use of: Web CT as Learning Management System PowerPoint - presentations Dreamweaver - Web site creation Encarta - research MSN communication & typing NoodleBib - referencing Camtasia Studio 3 videos as instruction assistance Excel - record / collate / present data results Word - writing & editing Publisher brochures / posters Self-analysis of problems Time management and project planning Self-check WebCT calendar & meet deadlines Describing own learning timeframe & style Awareness of cumulative learning process Recognition of iterative cycle of projects Understand micro & macro learning objectives Accessing support resources Work as a group on a project / evaluate peers work Assign tasks & responsibilities according to strengths Communicate as a group using communication tools Acquiring awareness of types & contexts of leadership Understand that underlying strategies are generic & applicable to future vocations (e.g. time management, presenting data for a specific purpose and audience) Understand metalanguage and register Decision analysis Use of spreadsheet and databases integrated projects Present results from data collection and analysis in oral

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and written contexts.

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