University of Pittsburgh

ACIE Award 2009

Rethinking Computer Science Education

G. Elisabeta Marai

G. Elisabeta Marai

Computer Science
SENSQ 6115 Pittsburgh
(412) 648-0249

Two of the most common myths about Computer Science (CS) education are that it is boring and involves little social interaction. In order to address some of the real and imagined gaps in CS education, Liz Marai (CS) has created the project Immersive Software Engineering.  Primarily, this project was used to develop a software engineering course first offered in spring 2010. This course focuses on project management and communication skills, with a spotlight on team-based real-world problems, and it functions as a capstone experience for upperclassmen.

In addition to developing the new course, Marai’s project has three other aims. First, she worked with her colleagues in CS to establish a database of software engineering code that students can use as a resource for research projects. Secondly, she introduced a peer-based framework for improving the communication skills of computer science and computer engineering students. Because traditional CS education often leaves students ill-prepared for public speaking and oral and written communication, Marai has CS students work with undergraduate tutors in the Writing Center and the Oral Communication Lab to build skills and experience. Finally, Marai puts an emphasis on community-based projects, which allows students the opportunity to work with faculty and other students across campus.

Innovation Assesment

2009 Teaching Times

Liz Marai instructing in the classroom Liz Marai instructs students in Computer Science.