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CONVERTING A TECHNICAL ORIENTED COURSE TO PROBLEM BASED LEARNING – A FIRST CONCEPTUAL COURSE DESIGN

H. Wahl, C. Kaufmann, A. Mense

University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien (AUSTRIA)
At the University of Applied Sciences (UAS) Technikum Wien, the course “Database Systems and Database Design” has turned out to be one of the most difficult courses in the Bachelor degree program of Computer Science. Beside the advanced computer programming course, this course is the number one drop-out reason for Computer Science students. The authors have gained lots of experiences in teaching data bases for several years. Some methods mainly in the field of traditional teaching were evaluated but did not succeed significantly. So far, the course is split into traditional reading lectures and exercise lectures. Neither small changes applying self organized learning combined with computer supporting learning nor varying test and review methods did result in better knowledge of students.

The authors have already gained experiences with Problem Based Learning (PBL), so they saw an opportunity to improve students’ data base knowledge by implementing PBL. In combination with the Software Engineering course a problem is defined to be solved within a period of two semesters following the rules of PBL. PBL should help to force the students to more intensively deal with the core database topics and yielding in better learning results.

The proposed paper shows the current situation and identifies its drawbacks and difficulties. It describes the ideas and chances behind the switch to PBL. The new concept is explained in detail and an evaluation method is given to measure the success of the new course design.