Imelda Smit

Publications

2 A Programming Assessment Software Artefact Enhanced with the Help of Learners

Authors: Imelda Smit, Romeo A. Botes

Abstract:

The demands of an ever changing and complex higher education environment, along with the profile of modern learners challenge current approaches to assessment and feedback. More learners enter the education system every year. The younger generation expects immediate feedback. At the same time, feedback should be meaningful. The assessment of practical activities in programming poses a particular problem, since both lecturers and learners in the information and computer science discipline acknowledge that paper-based assessment for programming subjects lacks meaningful real-life testing. At the same time, feedback lacks promptness, consistency, comprehensiveness and individualisation. Most of these aspects may be addressed by modern, technology-assisted assessment. The focus of this paper is the continuous development of an artefact that is used to assist the lecturer in the assessment and feedback of practical programming activities in a senior database programming class. The artefact was developed using three Design Science Research cycles. The first implementation allowed one programming activity submission per assessment intervention. This pilot provided valuable insight into the obstacles regarding the implementation of this type of assessment tool. A second implementation improved the initial version to allow multiple programming activity submissions per assessment. The focus of this version is on providing scaffold feedback to the learner – allowing improvement with each subsequent submission. It also has a built-in capability to provide the lecturer with information regarding the key problem areas of each assessment intervention.

Keywords: Programming, Computer-Aided Assessment, technology-assisted assessment, programming assessment software, design science research, mixed-method

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1 Innovative Teaching in Systems Analysis and Design - an Action Research Project

Authors: Imelda Smit

Abstract:

Systems Analysis and Design is a key subject in Information Technology courses, but students do not find it easy to cope with, since it is not “precise" like programming and not exact like Mathematics. It is a subject working with many concepts, modeling ideas into visual representations and then translating the pictures into a real life system. To complicate matters users who are not necessarily familiar with computers need to give their inputs to ensure that they get the system the need. Systems Analysis and Design also covers two fields, namely Analysis, focusing on the analysis of the existing system and Design, focusing on the design of the new system. To be able to test the analysis and design of a system, it is necessary to develop a system or at least a prototype of the system to test the validity of the analysis and design. The skills necessary in each aspect differs vastly. Project Management Skills, Database Knowledge and Object Oriented Principles are all necessary. In the context of a developing country where students enter tertiary education underprepared and the digital divide is alive and well, students need to be motivated to learn the necessary skills, get an opportunity to test it in a “live" but protected environment – within the framework of a university. The purpose of this article is to improve the learning experience in Systems Analysis and Design through reviewing the underlying teaching principles used, the teaching tools implemented, the observations made and the reflections that will influence future developments in Systems Analysis and Design. Action research principles allows the focus to be on a few problematic aspects during a particular semester.

Keywords: action research, Project Development, Systems Analysis and Design, Technology in Teaching

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Abstracts

2 A Programming Assessment Software Artefact Enhanced with the Help of Learners

Authors: Imelda Smit, Romeo A. Botes

Abstract:

The demands of an ever changing and complex higher education environment, along with the profile of modern learners challenge current approaches to assessment and feedback. More learners enter the education system every year. The younger generation expects immediate feedback. At the same time, feedback should be meaningful. The assessment of practical activities in programming poses a particular problem, since both lecturers and learners in the information and computer science discipline acknowledge that paper-based assessment for programming subjects lacks meaningful real-life testing. At the same time, feedback lacks promptness, consistency, comprehensiveness and individualisation. Most of these aspects may be addressed by modern, technology-assisted assessment. The focus of this paper is the continuous development of an artefact that is used to assist the lecturer in the assessment and feedback of practical programming activities in a senior database programming class. The artefact was developed using three Design Science Research cycles. The first implementation allowed one programming activity submission per assessment intervention. This pilot provided valuable insight into the obstacles regarding the implementation of this type of assessment tool. A second implementation improved the initial version to allow multiple programming activity submissions per assessment. The focus of this version is on providing scaffold feedback to the learner – allowing improvement with each subsequent submission. It also has a built-in capability to provide the lecturer with information regarding the key problem areas of each assessment intervention.

Keywords: Programming, Computer-Aided Assessment, technology-assisted assessment, programming assessment software, design science research, mixed-method

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1 One Step Further: Pull-Process-Push Data Processing

Authors: Imelda Smit, Romeo Botes

Abstract:

In today’s modern age of technology vast amounts of data needs to be processed in real-time to keep users satisfied. This data comes from various sources and in many formats, including electronic and mobile devices such as GPRS modems and GPS devices. They make use of different protocols including TCP, UDP, and HTTP/s for data communication to web servers and eventually to users. The data obtained from these devices may provide valuable information to users, but are mostly in an unreadable format which needs to be processed to provide information and business intelligence. This data is not always current, it is mostly historical data. The data is not subject to implementation of consistency and redundancy measures as most other data usually is. Most important to the users is that the data are to be pre-processed in a readable format when it is entered into the database. To accomplish this, programmers build processing programs and scripts to decode and process the information stored in databases. Programmers make use of various techniques in such programs to accomplish this, but sometimes neglect the effect some of these techniques may have on database performance. One of the techniques generally used,is to pull data from the database server, process it and push it back to the database server in one single step. Since the processing of the data usually takes some time, it keeps the database busy and locked for the period of time that the processing takes place. Because of this, it decreases the overall performance of the database server and therefore the system’s performance. This paper follows on a paper discussing the performance increase that may be achieved by utilizing array lists along with a pull-process-push data processing technique split in three steps. The purpose of this paper is to expand the number of clients when comparing the two techniques to establish the impact it may have on performance of the CPU storage and processing time.

Keywords: Data Processing, process data, performance measures, algorithm techniques, push data, array list

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