CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems (DCIS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Ling Wang

Committee Member

Wei Li

Committee Member

Glyn Gowing

Abstract

This study focused on developing and evaluating an open source software (OSS) network laboratory and curriculum for information technology (IT) program students. A review of literature revealed that to date there have been very few published studies on the development of the labs with clear and specific learning outcomes mapping the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) IT computing curriculum recommendations. In addition, very few efforts have been taken to develop the lab and curriculum by using instructional design and learning theory from a pedagogical perspective. The goals of the research were to (a) analyze current computer networking education in the higher education system and the IEEE/ACM IT computing curriculum recommendation, (b) map the labs to the learning outcomes recommended by IEEE/ACM IT computing curriculum, (c) create and implement the OSS-based network laboratory and curriculum, and (d) evaluate the effectiveness of the laboratory and curriculum.

The dissertation followed a developmental research model for the development of the lab and curriculum. The needs of the new curriculum were identified and the instructional goal was established. The 2008 ACM/IEEE computing curriculum recommendations were analyzed and translated into the lab objectives. Then five OSS labs were designed and implemented to cover the recommended learning outcomes. The curriculum was delivered to the students for two semester offerings at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

An evaluation strategy which included a pretest, a posttest, and survey instrument was developed to measure students' performance and attitudes about the labs. The test questions were mapped to the learning objectives of the labs. The performances of the students from the intervention and control group were compared with paired t tests. Statistical analysis indicated that the labs were effective in introducing students to the concepts of computer networking. Students' comments also indicated that they preferred hands-on labs coupled with the classroom lectures. These results confirmed findings reported from previous studies. Additionally, based on some students' recommendation, the OSS network labs for distance online students could be a future direction to pursue.

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