O2 – Ready-to-use guidelines for teachers

After having identified key competences, situations, contexts, activities, tasks etc. where modeling seems useful (intellectual output O1), it is necessary to select and describe suitable models and their purpose for these different issues in a form that can be understood even without computer science background.

Based on the analysis of primary and secondary school curricula and the developed overview (O1) we will categorize the different key competences, themes, contexts found etc. as well as modeling techniques and diagrams in order to connect them and show teachers where, in which situations, for which activities etc. which model or diagram can be useful. We will develop a guideline for teachers with essential information about the diagrams, their purposes and how to use them. We further present some examples of modeling in different fields of application that will be created in cooperation with teachers in our local workshops (see also A3 Local project activities in section G Project management and implementation). Due to our experiences with modeling in foreign language lessons the first models we use are ER-, class-, activity diagrams and flowcharts, but we will add also other diagram types that seem useful for the different purposes (e.g. use case diagrams, communication diagrams etc.). The best materials produced in these local workshops will be selected and adapted by the JKU team, leader of this output, and will serve as sample activities for the ready-to-use guideline for teachers. All other materials will be collected and added to those produced for output O5, the online collection of COOL teaching and learning materials.

Innovation. Modeling has not been equally spread in each project partner country as a tool in other subjects than in those closely related (computer science or mathematics) and there is no such guideline up to now. Hence, teachers in project partner countries can learn from each others’ practices and the jointly developed framework will be definitely innovative. From our experiences in the project “Informatics – A Child’s Play?!” we know that modeling is a useful tool for teachers and learners in primary education, but they are unsure and need more information on how and where to use and apply it. 

Impact: With this practical guideline teachers and also learners will learn to apply a new and innovative method/strategy that supports learning in their subjects and get to know where they can integrate it in their subjects. They will get concrete hints that help them to apply suitable models and diagrams for certain learning situations, competencies, themes etc. in several subjects. 

Transferability: Besides subject specific hints the guideline will inform teachers and learners also how to train different general (learning) competences, like problem solving, using samples of everyday life. So it would be easy to transfer them also to other subjects or levels of education. 

Procedure: After the content analysis of different curricula in order to find out key competences, themes and situations (O1), we list them and group them in some few categories. Then we group the different models, find useful categories that we can finally link to the categories of competences, themes etc. Based on this work and our experiences with modeling in foreign language lessons, we describe suitable models, their purpose as well as necessary shapes and rules for their application. We will certainly integrate models that have already been considered as useful by teachers and students (flowcharts, entity-relationship-, class- and activity diagrams) but we will add others like use case or communication diagrams etc. The final step is writing the ready-to-use guideline for teachers that will be reviewed not only by project partners but also by the different participants (teachers, students, teacher educators).  

Ready-to-use-guideline: Fact Sheets – Diagrams

We provide a guideline of five diagrams, that have already been considered as very suitable for many subjects. These diagrams are the following: 

  • Entity-Relationship-Diagrams
  • Class- & Object Diagrams
  • Activity Diagrams
  • Use-Case Diagrams
  • Flowchart Diagrams

This guideline serves as a first introduction to modeling and therefore, the descriptions and sample diagrams are purposely kept very simple. During the pilot phase, the factsheets were checked for comprehensibility by several teachers and students and we subsequently adapted them accordingly. Besides a first introduction to modeling for multipliers, mentors and tutors, these factsheets can be used as hands-on material when these stakeholders implement their workshops in school. More detailed information about the different diagrams is available in two different versions. On the one hand, complementary information for the first three diagrams (entity-relationship diagram, class & object diagram and activity diagram) is provided in form of tutorial videos for a flipped-classroom approach (online training etc.). The remaining two diagrams (use-case diagram and flowchart), on the other hand, are further elaborated in interdisciplinary teams of the different stakeholders (mentors, multipliers, tutors) in face-to-face trainings.

Reference Framework of Modeling

In the course of this project phase, a so-called Framework of Reference for Modeling (ReMo) has been developed [1]. The need to create such a concept was based on practical experience with schools, where teachers showed uncertainty in the rating of the diagrams. The question, if these diagrams follow a correct syntax based on computer science standards was present. Another critical aspect is, that from the perspective of computer science, diagrams created by people without CS background are non-compliant with the common standards. Using modeling in an interdisciplinary context goes along with blurry boundaries between random visualization of content and the use of computer science diagrams. The ReMo aims at eliminating uncertainties in applying modeling in different subjects. Currently, there is no practical assessment tool to evaluate the quality of diagrams in a non-informatic setting.

The ReMo is divided into three main sections – A, B and C – which stand for ’Basic User’, ’Independent User’ and ’Proficient User’. These three main sections are again divided into two subcategories, which are marked with the numbers 1 and 2. The CEFR is a widely recognized standard in the language community across Europe and the reference to it facilitates the use of the modeling framework.

In each reference level (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) detailed descriptions of receptive and productive modeling skills are represented in form of ”knows..” and ”can do…” descriptors. Moreover, the modeling framework takes into account not only the syntax accuracy from a computer science perspective, but also sets a deep focus on the mental processes that occur while working with models. As visible in figure 8, in the framework, there are several pie charts in the second column. These pie charts should help the user to understand to which extend the individual diagrams follow the standard of computer science.

You can dowload the final report.