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    Teaching Computer Architecture: How to Introduce the Class Essay

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    Introduction: How to Teaching is simple. It does not always require creativity to do it right. It is the art of using the right teaching method for the right student personality in the right environment. How much a particular student learns in a course is actually governed partially by that learner’s native ability and preceding preparation but also by the consistency of his learning style and the teacher’s teaching style. Teachers’ teaching plans can exceed the learning process for the students and can improve their learning quality as well if it is well-matched the students’ learning styles.

    The concept of learning styles – which states that different learners have different needs, ways of processing and adapting information, and therefore need to be taught differently so that their learning and achievement are more effective – has been a significant area of investigation in learning theories for over thirty years. In this paper I am designing a teaching plan driven by students learning styles and compatible with the basic two types of learning styles: visual and verbal learning styles.

    Teaching computer architecture has been examined in many ways like prototyping [1], learning through experience [2] [3] but it hasn’t addressed by matching the teaching style with the students learning styles. I chose the first lesson of the computer architecture “introducing computer architecture course to the students” as an example to prove the enhancement of this approach in teaching computer architecture. The paper is divided to some sections.

    The first one is setting the base knowledge of the terms that will be used through this paper starting from explaining learning styles then going to clarifying the visual and auditory learning styles. After that, I am going to implement the introduced background in computer architecture context to computer architecture course (ACCESS) at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Finally, I will suggest how to evaluate the applicability and the enhancement of this proposed plan followed by a brief dissection.

    Page 1 Motivation: First, I was motivated by the importance of computer architecture course. Second, my motivation was also the challenges that I faced in this course thus I didn’t satisfactorily understand its concepts. My reason of not fully getting the content was personal; my background knowledge that was required to this course wasn’t adequate. Then I asked myself how much have the other students, who have fulfilled the prerequisite, learned? Did they get the essentials of the course?

    And these questions have formulated my effort presented in this paper here in order to both facilitate their learning and improve their learning quality of this substantial course. Background: A. Learning styles: Learning in an organized educational situation may be thought of as a two-step process encompassing the reception and processing of information. Learning styles can be defined as the preferences of an individual in a particular learning situation 4]. It refers to the preferred way of a learner to receive information.

    Individuals are dissimilar in how they learn. In [5], Richard M. Folder had proposed a model of learning and teaching styles in engineering education that consists of five learning styles dimensions: sensory and intuitive, visual and verbal, inductive and deductive, active and reflective, and finally sequential and global. To match the teaching method with a category of the students learning styles, it changes the way to present information or the way to organize it and sometimes both. B.

    Visual and Verbal Learners In his model, he had considered the visual and verbal learning styles and had categorized them in the input dimension that deals with the component of the learning process in which information is observed. People receive information in many ways. These ways may be divided into three categories, sometimes mentioned to as modalities: visual ways that refers to sights, pictures, diagrams, symbols; auditory ways that use sounds, words; kinesthesia ways such as taste, touch, and smell.

    Thus, there are visual, verbal, and kinesthesia learners. Visual learners have a reference of seeing: pictures, diagrams, flow charts, time lines, films, or demonstrations and they remember best what they see. They usually like to see the teacher’s body language and expressions to better understand the content of lessons, highlight the important points of the lesson with pretty colors, and they Page 2 illustrate the concepts to fully understand and memorize it.

    If information is simply said to them, they will forget it easily. Auditory learners remember best what they listen to. They acquire a lot out of discussion, learn efficiently by explaining things to ACH other, take the underlying meanings of speech through focusing their listening to tone of voice, read the written materials out loud to absorb and memorize them well, and they prefer verbal clarification to optical demonstration. According to Richard M.

    Folder, “most people of college age and older are visual while most college teaching is verbal?the information presented is predominantly auditory (lecturing) or a visual representation of auditory information (words and mathematical symbols written in texts and handouts, on transparencies, or on a chalkboard)”. This present a problem to many learners. C. How we learn? How People Learn: Brain Mind, Experience, and School book [6] has concluded seven primary points of how people learn: 1.

    Leaning is facilitated when knowledge is structured around major concepts and principles. 2. A learner’s prior knowledge is the starting point of effective learning. 3. Awareness and self-monitoring of learning (“meta-cognition”) are important for acquiring proficiency. 4. Learners’ belief about their ability to learn affects their success. 5. Recognizing and accommodating differences in the ways people learn are essential. 6. Learning is shaped by the context in which it occurs. . Learning can be strengthened through collaboration.

    These points also were the foundations of the vision for the future science and engineering learning environment that was anticipated in the new electrical and computer engineering curriculum in 2013 and beyond [7]. In my paper, I am suggesting a plan that is in line with both points number 1 and 5. Implementation: To implement a teaching plan that focuses on visual and verbal learning styles in the computer architecture context, I will be using visual and aural tools to present the content and I will mix using them while I am explaining each concept.

    The aural tools will be spoken words or written presented text. On the other hand, the visual tools will Page 3 vary between pictures, diagrams and charts. This teaching plan is intended for introducing computer architecture course ACCESS/5200 at University of Colorado at Colorado Spring. The laconic teaching goals for this lesson are: 0 0 0 0 Student defines computer architecture. Student recognizes the role of the technology trends in computer architecture. Student distinguishes between computer architecture and instruction set architecture. Student lists two types of parallelism.

    And it will be organized as the following: 1. Prerequisite classes. 2. A foreword. 3. Computer architecture definition. 4. Computer architecture intersection. 5. Computer architecture classifications. 6. Why does it matter? 7. Course content. 8. Conclusion. 1 . Prerequisite classes Dependency or process diagram is going to be utilized to show the computer organization prerequisite classes. Computer organization 2. A foreword. Computers have different ways of how we see them. Computer Architecture Personal Mobile devices Desktop Computing Servers Clusters/ warehouseman computers Embedded computers

    Each of these unlike computers has its own characteristics, requirement, and computing technologies. However, they all have at least a processor, memory, 1/0 device, and a way to communicate between them. Another way to see computers is this picture. Page 4 Applications System software Hardware SIS SIS in this picture is abbreviation of instruction set architecture, the boundaries between the hardware and the software. 3. Computer architecture definition: So, what is computer architecture? What do the computer architects do? The definition will be driven from the presented pictures above. Computer architects design imputer systems.

    Hence, it is not equal to designing SIS any more (old definition) SIS is actually a part of computer architecture. The word architecture nowadays covers all three aspects of computer design – instruction set architecture, organization or macrostructure, and hardware [8]. Computer architecture has been defined as designing the organization and hardware of the computer to meet goals and Measurement and Analysis Design Requirements and Castrations functional requirements [8] (figure: 1). 4. Computer architecture intersection: SIS Compiler Logical design Computer architecture is not a stand-alone subject.

    In order to obtain better computer design, it calls for familiarities with several topics like What do the computer architects do? Figure 1 : compiler, history of computers, and operating systems (figure: 2). A useful suggested tool to visualize the above Computer Architecture prop languages SO Computer history Figure 2: computer architecture interaction http://loving. Host. Sky/attendant/Operating-System-Extended-Machine. HTML Page 5 content would be Venn diagram. 5. Computer architecture classification: The most popular known classification of the computer architecture is Flan’s taxonomy.

    It insiders only the computer processor of the designed computer system. The memory, interconnections, 1/0 devises aren’t involved in Flan’s taxonomy. The processor receive two kinds of information flow whether data or instruction. According to Flan’s taxonomy, both of the instruction or data streams can be single or multiple. Architecture categories Flan’s Taxonomy SITS SIMD MID MISS Another architecture classification is based on the type of parallelism that is exploited in the designed computer system. Tow type of parallelism at the computer application Parallel architecture Data level parallelism

    Task level parallelism level: data level parallelism and task level parallelism 6. Why does it matter? Architects design architecture for a given technology. Technology parameters quickly change over time. So, it is important to trace the technology trends and plan for it as architects (figure: 3). Parameter Time Page 6 Figure 3: Technology trends Technology: Integrated circuit technology DRAM, Flash Magnetic disk technology Bandwidth and Latency Transistors and Wires Power and Energy: Thermal Design Power (TIP) Dynamic Energy and Power Static power consumption Cost: DRAM pence Microprocessors price Integrated Circuit Cost 7.

    Course topics: Computer architecture Quantitative approach [8] is a popular book for teaching computer architecture class in many universities, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs as well. So, I am going to adopt the content of this book to introduce the computer architecture topics. Here is a dependency diagram to present the course topics and the book chapters at the same time in relational manner to give the student a glance of how the topics are structured. Also, it can be extended by building up new dependency relations between the chapters as the instructor start to explain them later on the course.

    This method is to facilitate the learning according to How People Learn book [6] point number one. Chap: 1 Fundamentals of Quantitative Design and Analysis Chap: 2 Memory hierarchy design Chap: 3 instruction-Level Parallelism Chap: 4 Data-Level Parallelism Appendix B Appendix C Chap: 5 Multiprocessors and Threadlike Parallelism page 7 Chap: 6 The Warehouse-Scale Computer 8. Close the talk by summarizing the information. In conclusion, the computer architecture is to design the organization and the hardware of the computer to meet its functional requirements and intended goals.

    To do that best, architects asked for taking the technology trends in its consideration to lengthen the life of the designed architects and for taking advantages of parallelism in order to make it scalable and efficient. Measurement and Analysis Indeed, Just one thing needs to change in the teaching plan to engage both visual and verbal learning styles- change the way to present information, provide visual aids in addition to verbal ones. Evaluation: In this section, I am going to suggest an evaluating procedure consist of two parts: satisfaction evaluation and outcome evaluation.

    First, to assess the satisfaction of this Lana, instructor can look to the learning style for each student in the class using one of the learning styles inventory test that are provided online like: http:// www. Learning-storyline. Com/inventory/questions. PH? Cockiest=y or http:// Then, count the percentage of students that has visual learning style, aural learning style, and other styles. After that, calculate the how much of the students learning styles are covered by this plan design, sum visual and verbal students.

    Finally, count the parentage of students learning styles that this plan considered to evaluate the degree of satisfaction. Second, in a teaching and learning, the most actual evaluation is that which on the basis of students learning outcomes. So, to measure this plan outcome, instructor can use either way quantitative or qualitative approach like: asking some direct questions to Page 8 students to examine their understanding; print out an assessment examination and give it to each student (figure: 4); asking all the students if they have any questions about the lecture.

    I recommend the simplest evaluating methodology like the method suggested in [9],”instructors should avoid questions or situations that could make it wizard for students to respond (“Who is lost? “) or are so generic as to lead to nonresidents (“Are there any questions? “). Instead, instructors should pose questions that encourage more specific responses, (e. G. , “How many of you understand what we are talking about? “). ” Name: ? What is computer architecture? Name: From 1 to 10: How much important is this course?

    How much you think you can learn this course? As (high – medium – low): How much important is this course? How much you think you can learn this course? Figure 4: example of printed students’ assessment Discussion: In USC computer architecture class, while implementing the presented approach, I notice a further unintended advantage. The main goal for this plan was to match the learning style for the visual and verbal learners. But I discovered that it has advantages even if the learning style doesn’t match the student like the case of international students.

    Indeed, this plan improves the learning for the verbal learners who are taught by a different language from what they are natively speak. There was almost 15% of the students in the ACCESS at USC are international students. This approach can contribute to solve the learning difficulties that the international students face. Assuming that the international students misunderstand 5% to 35% from the spoken language in the lecture, due to the lack of their English vocabularies and synonyms that they are familiar with, the percentage expected to decrease when the instructor uses visual tools in their teaching.

    Consequently, the progress is accomplished by reducing the misunderstanding percentage of the international students. Observing the visualization tools in this teaching plan, it was suitable for the context that they have been exploited in. One of the efficient teaching visualization tools to computer architecture course is simulators [10], it hasn’t used in this suggested plan because it had addressed introducing the course but it still can be used later on the lectures.

    It helps explaining the main concepts in the course such as CPU [1 1], SIS, or cache memory. Page 9 Even if the computer architecture topics expand, this suggested plan will still be applicable and it will not needs significant changes. Conclusion: In conclusion, the main effort in this paper was a contribution to utilize delivering the computer architecture content to the students. I have used a teaching method that focuses on students’ learning style and I have designed a constructible teaching plan.

    In my suggested designed teaching plan for the first day of computer architecture class, I have chosen two basic learning styles of student, visual and verbal learning styles. Then, I propose a way to evaluate the success of it. In my discussion, I discussed several points; I highlighted a benefit for this approach for international students as well; mentioned visualization tools are useful and recommended additional one that haven’t used but can be used later in the course, simulations is useful for chemotherapeutics. Bibliography [1] E. J. Barbara, H.. B.

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