TIP Grant Funds Development of Introductory Computer Programming Courses

Integrated Development Environment Optimizes Learning

A University of Houston Teaching Innovation Program (TIP) Grant, for the amount of $35,000, will go toward developing an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for introductory computer programming courses.

Giulia Toti and Amin Alipour
Giulia Toti (left) and Amin Alipour (right) are the recipients of a grant to fund the development of a uniform learning environment for introductory computer science and programming courses.

“This allows us to provide a uniform environment for students, so that instructors can focus on the main content,” said Amin Alipour, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Alipour and Giulia Toti, instructional assistant professor of computer science, are the grant recipients.

TIP Grant Supports New and Innovative Approaches to Teaching in Online and Hybrid Environments

The TIP Grant is administered by the Office of the Provost. This program offers departments the opportunity to develop and implement new and innovative approaches to teaching in the online and hybrid environments.

Innovative approaches to teaching include the integration of new educational technologies, the use of interactive digital tools and media, and the development of curriculum for hybrid and online environments.

Integrated Development Environment: Providing Consistency for Learning

Integrated Development Environments are the interfaces used to write, run and debug code. Different IDEs are available to work with various types of computers and programming languages.

Within the same course, students and professors may end up using different IDEs. This leads to inconsistencies, unexpected errors, and frustration in students who are still learning the basics of programming.

“In the first two years, CS students encounter at least three programming languages,” Toti said. “For each of these languages, they have to install a separate IDE and learn how to use it, which is a challenge, and causes us to spend time on that particular obstacle, rather than focusing on programming itself.”

To solve this challenge, Toti and Alipour will develop and implement an online IDE that will be used for introductory programming courses. With this IDE, students will log into a web browser to write, run and debug code, thus ensuring a standardized programming experience.

The IDE will be developed by Alipour and Toti, with the help of a graduate student in computer science, and implemented in fall 2020.

“We hope this will impact the quality of introductory programming courses, and in turn, attract more students to computer science and programming,” Alipour said.

- Rachel Fairbank, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics