Laboratories In The Computer Science Curriculum

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Computer Science Education


From the beginning, the discipline of computer science has been a laboratory science. In this regard, it stands alongside biology, chemistry, geology, and physics, where students and practitioners formulate conjectures and then design and carry out experiments to study the validity of those conjectures. The laboratory is an integral component of both education and practice in these sciences. In computer science, the laboratory component has been less formal, and most laboratory work has been performed in computer centers, sharing the resources with those who use computers as tools in other disciplines. This arrangement has been unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. It is, therefore, appropriate and timely to consider the nature and relevance of the laboratory session in the computer science curriculum. This report, which is based on deliberations of the Liberal Arts Computer Science Consortium, is a follow‐up to the model curriculum (Gibbs & Tucker, 1986) and considers the role of the computer science laboratory in undergraduate computer science education. This report begins with a description of the laboratory component of computer science. The functional components of the laboratories will then be identified and translated into facilities required.

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