Running CS1 courses is challenging. Thousands of CS1 courses are run every term, involving redundant work by instructors, even though the courses have many similarities.

Increased cooperation among instructors, within a school or among a few schools can help substantially reduce instructor workload.

zyBooks is offering a “common course program”, where course content features such as schedule, homework, programming assignments, exams, and course policies are provided by zyBooks and used across many instructors teaching introductory computer science. We aim to show that common courses provide benefits such as instructor time savings, improved course quality, increased automation, data analysis with iterative improvement, and improved student outcomes.

A common course includes:

zyBooks items

  • A 16-week configuration of CS1 topics in a zyBook (minor variations possible), which includes weekly readings and homeworks (PAs and CAs in zyBook lingo)
  • 5-7 pre-designed online programming zyLabs per week, auto-graded
  • 6 programming online zyLab quizzes, auto-graded
  • Several makeup labs/quizzes
  • A midterm and final exam, each half multiple choice questions, half code writing, which you can offer in whatever modality you choose
  • Suggestions for coding examples / activities for each week’s lecture periods
  • A syllabus with points breakdown and proven-effective policies to keep students on track, and minimize instructor time
  • Analyses of student performance on various course aspects (readings, homeworks, labs, quizzes, exams, lecture participation, earnestness)

What you give up:

Some flexibility in subject choice and ordering, and policies

Customized tests

To qualify:

Your course should be a Fall 2024 semester course (15-18 weeks) from Sept to Jan, using C++ having at least 30 students, and using a zyBook with zyLabs.

You should be willing to teach the course using the provided course features (akin to teaching a section of course at a large university)

You should agree to respond to survey requests, participate in an online discussion forum with other instructors in the pilot, and potentially attend 1-2 zoom meetings (schedule permitting of course).

Care will be taken to adhere to FERPA guidelines. IRB approval is unlikely to be necessary unless an instructor wishes to go beyond the pilot’s basics; in its current form, the instructor is simply adopting course materials that are all already part of many textbook adoptions (the pilot is simply more deliberate with their completeness and consistent usage).

Complete the interest form by July 12th.