Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentOrni Meerbaum-Salant
SubjectPedagogical Aspects of Mentoring High School Software
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Full Professors Hazzan Orit
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Software development is a complex process ridden with many problems. The software industry and the discipline of software engineering are trying to find solutions for these challenges. However, no standard for software development processes exists today and no agreement with respect to one methodology that suits all software projects has been reached so far. In addition to typical difficulties encountered by the software industry, additional challenges arise with respect to software development processes in high school environment. However, as far as we know, no general methodology or model have been developed for software development projects in high school. This fact reinforces the need for mentoring model that will address the difficulties involved in such a mentoring process. Accordingly, the research goal is to characterize pedagogical aspects of teaching software development projects in high school, and based on this characterize to construct a mentoring model for software projects in high school.

The research participants were: Computer Science (CS) teachers who were mentoring high school software development projects, CS teachers who were assigned by the Ministry of Education to evaluate software projects, prospective CS teachers who were attending the Methods of Teaching Computer Science at the Department of Education in Technology and Science of the Technion, CS teachers who participated in a mentoring workshop facilitated by the researcher and her supervisor and high school CS classes.

Since the research is based on the documentation of perceptions, the qualitative research approach was used. The following research tools were used: questionnaires, interviews, observations, reflective interviews, class work and homework assignments of prospective and in-service CS teachers, focus group, reflection, and researcher diary.

The research was conducted in three stages. The first stage addressed challenges in mentoring software development projects in high school. These challenges were analysis according to Shulman's Teacher Knowledge Base Model. The second stage was dedicated to the construction of a mentoring model. And the third stage focused on the model evaluation, checking whether it achieved its goals.

The theoretical contribution is expressed in the addition to the field of project-based-leaning in general and mentoring high school software projects in particular. The practical contributions is expressed by the availability of a mentoring model for software projects in high school and of a yearly mentoring schedule that can be easily adapted to the mentoring process of any subject, in any programming language, programming paradigm and development environment.