IUSE/PFE:RED: PPSE - Programmers to Professional Software Engineers

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This is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research to revolutionize the professional formation of computer scientists and software engineers. The PPSE project started on 1 July 2017 and will end on 30 June 2022. Total budget for the project is USD 2 million.

Many computer science departments in general and less-research-intensive departments in particular, experience high dropout of undergraduate students. This is particularly worrisome given that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2020, half of all STEM jobs will be in computing. Several research advances and technological innovations have fundamentally changed the computing discipline in recent years. Such advances include cloud and mobile computing, web technologies, high-performance computing, social media, big data, and machine learning. Also, similar advances have occurred in learning science and educational technologies. Learning science informs how students actually learn and educational technologies leverage mobile computing and learning analytics to enable formal and informal learning. Millennial students learn differently and the above advances provide unprecedented opportunities to enhance student learning.

The project seeks to dramatically improve computer science students' retention and graduation rates through a transformational process that involves curricular innovations, design and development of inclusive pedagogy, and faculty development. Both technical and professional skills will be interspersed throughout the curriculum to better prepare them for industry careers. The project addresses diversity in student learning through personalization. The project enables significantly increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in computing education and careers. Lastly, the project strives to increase the number of transfer students from community colleges and early college high schools completing undergraduate computing degrees in universities. The results of the project will be widely disseminated across the country to help other computer science departments improve their students' success.

  1. Transform programming-centric computer science education approach to a systems-oriented and software engineering-centric one,
  2. Infuse professional skills development process into the entire curriculum,
  3. Dramatically increase retention and graduation rates,
  4. Recruit significantly more students from underrepresented groups,
  5. Personalize teaching and learning in both formal and informal settings, and
  6. Work with community colleges and early college high schools in the region to increase the number of transfer students and enhance their success in college.

The project is both innovative and revolutionary. The project will design a non-course-centric curriculum, develop an innovative and inclusive pedagogy, use free and open-source software to provide a compelling and contextualized teaching and learning environment. Professional skills development will be interspersed throughout the curriculum through team projects, internship and co-op opportunities, undergraduate research and entrepreneurship, and professional networking. The project will improve retention and graduation rates by employing research-based approaches such as providing motivating and inviting academic environment, proactive efforts in student advising and degree planning, and fostering positive faculty-student relationships.

Participation of underrepresented groups will be significantly increased through collaborative partnerships with community colleges and early college high schools. Personalization of teaching and learning materials is achieved through structuring and development of materials through fine-granular authoring and semantic markup. To overcome faculty resistance barriers, the project employs a change model which is based on Appreciative Inquiry (AI), which reflects local context and constraints. The change model drives the research questions we investigate in the project. It takes an unprecedented, bold, and systemic approach to the professional formation of software engineers.

Dr. Venkat Gudivada

Role: Principal Investigator
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Dr. Venkat N. Gudivada is Professor and Chair of Department of Computer Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibilities are: project coordination; liaison with NSF, other RED awardees, and project advisory board.

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Dr. Junhua Ding

Role: Co-Principal Investigator
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Dr. Junhua Ding is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibilities are liaison with consultants, non-course-centric curriculum, and software development.

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Dr. Qin Ding

Role: Co-Principal Investigator
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Dr. Qin Ding is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Her primary responsibilities are innovative and inclusive pedagogy, and broadening participation of underrepresented minorities.

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Dr. Marjorie Ringler

Role: Co-Principal Investigator, Social Scientist
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Dr. Marjorie Ringler is Professor and Chair of Department of Educational Leadership, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Her primary responsibilities are change model implementation and investigating related research questions.

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Dr. William Sugar

Role: Co-Principal Investigator, Computer Science Education Researcher
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Dr. William Sugar is a Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibilities are instructional design, reusable and personalizable teaching and learning content design, development, and assessment.

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Dr. Mark Hills

Role: Senior Investigator
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Dr. Mark Hills is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibilities are development of non-course-centric curriculum, and innovative and inclusive pedagogy.

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Dr. Nasseh Tabrizi

Role: Senior Investigator
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Dr. Nasseh Tabrizi is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibilities are research rejuvenation, colloquium series, pairing faculty with research mentors.

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Dr. Kamran Sartipi

Role: Senior Investigator
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Dr. Kamran Sartipi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibilities are industry liaison, internship and coop programs, and paring students with industry mentors.

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Dr. David Bucci

Role: Senior Investigator
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Dr. David Bucci is the Director of Academic Advising Center, College of Engineering and Technology, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibilities are connections and partnerships with high schools, early college high schools, and community colleges.

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Graduate Student 1

Role: Graduate Research Assistant
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GS 1 is a graduate student pursuing M.S. in Computer Science degree in the Department of Computer Science at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Her/his primary responsibility is assisting faculty researchers in designing and developing software for non-course-centric curriculum, innovative and inclusive pedagogy, developing teaching and learning content for personalized learning, and automated question generation.

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Graduate Student 2

Role: Graduate Research Assistant
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GS 2 is a graduate student pursuing M.S. in Computer Science degree in the Department of Computer Science at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Her/his primary responsibility is assisting faculty researchers in designing and developing software for non-course-centric curriculum, innovative and inclusive pedagogy, developing teaching and learning content for personalized learning, and automated question generation.

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Undergraduate Student 1

Role: Undergraduate Research Assistant
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UGS 1 is an undergraduate student pursuing B.S. in Computer Science degree in the Department of Computer Science at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Her/his primary responsibility is assisting faculty researchers in designing and developing software for non-course-centric curriculum, innovative and inclusive pedagogy, developing teaching and learning content for personalized learning, automated question generation, preparation of documents, and PPSE website management.

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Undergraduate Student 2

Role: Undergraduate Research Assistant
Undergraduate Student 2's Photo

UGS 2 is an undergraduate student pursuing B.S. in Computer Science degree in the Department of Computer Science at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Her/his primary responsibility is assisting faculty researchers in designing and developing software for non-course-centric curriculum, innovative and inclusive pedagogy, developing teaching and learning content for personalized learning, automated question generation, preparation of documents, and PPSE website management.

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Undergraduate Student 3

Role: Undergraduate Research Assistant
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UGS 3 is an undergraduate student pursuing B.S. in Computer Science degree in the Department of Computer Science at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Her/his primary responsibility is assisting faculty researchers in designing and developing software for non-course-centric curriculum, innovative and inclusive pedagogy, developing teaching and learning content for personalized learning, automated question generation, preparation of documents, and PPSE website management.

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Undergraduate Student 4

Role: Undergraduate Research Assistant
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UGS 4 is an undergraduate student pursuing B.S. in Computer Science degree in the Department of Computer Science at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. Her/his primary responsibility is assisting faculty researchers in designing and developing software for non-course-centric curriculum, innovative and inclusive pedagogy, developing teaching and learning content for personalized learning, automated question generation, preparation of documents, and PPSE website management.

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Dr. Julie Edmunds

Role: Independent External Evaluator
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Dr. Julie Edmunds is the Program Director for Secondary School Reform at the SERVE Center, University of North Carolina - Greensboro. Her primary responsibility is formative and summative assessment of the project.

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Dr. Bryan C. Hutchins

Role: Independent External Evaluator
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Dr. Bryan Hutchins is a research specialist at the SERVE Center, University of North Carolina - Greensboro. Her primary responsibility is formative and summative assessment of the project.

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Dr. Ronald Fry

Role: External Consultant
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Dr. Ronald Fry is a Professor of Organizational Behavior, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. His primary responsibility lies in providing consulting service for change model design and implementation.

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Dr. Aneil Mishra

Role: Consultant
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Dr. Aneil Mishra is Thomas D. Arthur Professor of Leadership, Department of Management, College of Business, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibility lies in providing consulting service for trust development.

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Dr. John W. Stiller

Role: Consultant
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Dr. John W. Stiller is a Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. His primary responsibility lies in providing consulting service for innovative pedagogy such as problem-based learning.

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Dr. Clif Kussmaul

Role: External Consultant
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Dr. Clif Kussmaul is an Associate Professor of Computer Science, Department of Math and Computer Science, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. His primary responsibility lies in providing consulting service for innovative pedagogy such as CS-POGIL.

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Dr. Heidi Ellis

Role: External Consultant
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Dr. Heidi Ellis is Professor and Chair, Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, Western New England University, Springfield, Massachusetts. Her primary responsibility lies in providing consulting service for incorporating Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) into Computer Science courses.

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Gina Likins

Role: External Consultant
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Gina Likins is an open-source evangelist and University Outreach liaison at Red Hat, Raleigh, North Carolina. Her primary responsibility lies in providing consulting service for incorporating Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) into Computer Science courses.

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Dr. Jerry Oglesby, SAS

Role: Industry Advisory Board Member
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Dr. Jerry Oglesby is a Senior Director, Global Academic Programs, Education Practice Division, SAS, Raleigh, North Carolina. In Industry Advisory Board member role, Dr. Ogelsby will provide strategic guidance to the PPSE project team to help them achieve the project's goals

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Dr. Shirin Mojarad, McGraw-Hill Education

Role: Industry Advisory Board Member
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Dr. Shirin Mojarad is a Data Scientist, McGraw-Hill Education, Boston, Massachusetts. In Industry Advisory Board member role, Dr. Mojarad will provide strategic guidance to the PPSE project team to help them achieve the project's goals

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Dr. Srini Ramaswamy, ABB, Inc.

Role: Industry Advisory Board Member
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Dr. Srini Ramaswamy is a Global Technology Manager - Software, Power Generation, ABB, Inc. In Industry Advisory Board member role, Dr. Ramaswamy will provide strategic guidance to the PPSE project team to help them achieve the project's goals

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Jeff Crume, IBM

Role: Industry Advisory Board Member
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Jeff Crume is a is a Distinguished Engineer and IT Security Architect at IBM, Raleigh, North Carolina. In Industry Advisory Board member role, he will provide strategic guidance to the PPSE project team to help them achieve the project's goals

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Rick Owens, Pitt Community College

Role: Industry Advisory Board Member
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Rick Owens is Vice President of Administrative Services at Pitt Community College, Greenville, North Carolina. In Industry Advisory Board member role, he will provide strategic guidance to the PPSE project team to help them achieve the project's goals

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W. Wynn Whittington, Pitt County Early College High School

Role: Industry Advisory Board Member
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W. Wynn Whittington is Principal of Pitt County Early College High School, Greenville, North Carolina. In Industry Advisory Board member role, he will provide strategic guidance to the PPSE project team to help them achieve the project's goals

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Kurt Schmidt, Nvidia

Role: Industry Advisory Board Member
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Kurt Schmidt is an Account Manager, Higher Education and Research, Nvidia Corporation. In Industry Advisory Board member role, he will provide strategic guidance to the PPSE project team to help them achieve the project's goals

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