SXU’s Florence Appel Receives Grant from Google

Saint Xavier University (SXU) Department of Computer Science Professor Florence Appel, Ph.D., recently received a $5,000 grant from Google and the Tides Foundation to further develop her teaching from a lecture and lab model to a group-based model using Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) pedagogy.

POGIL is an approach that explicitly emphasizes the development of cognitive and affective process skills as an important component of the student learning process. It simultaneously and synergistically addresses the development of discipline-content mastery and key process skills, such as critical thinking, communication and teamwork, placing a dual emphasis on process and guided instruction. Dr. Appel plans to utilize this approach to teach Principles of Computer Programming I (CMPSC 202) this coming fall.

Dr. Appel learned of the grant from National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), for which Google is a strategic partner and SXU’s Computer Science department is a member. NCWIT sponsors a website called EngageCSEdu, which serves as a repository of teaching materials, particularly materials that are pedagogically useful in teaching female students and those from underrepresented populations. Dr. Appel plans to expand and fine tune her existing POGIL materials to contribute to this repository before the end of the grant period, ensuring that her work doesn’t just improve the learning experiences of her own students, but also many other students whom she’ll never even meet.

To aid in developing teaching materials, Dr. Appel may use the grant funds for travel to related conferences and/or to hold workshops at the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA). With this support, Google is assisting Dr. Appel and other professors like her to leave a lasting impact on the teaching of computer science.