COMP SCI 1010 - Puzzle Based Learning

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2019

The focus of this course is on getting students to think about framing and solving unstructured problems (those that are not encountered at the end of some textbook chapter). The general objective is to increase the student's mathematical awareness and problem-solving skills by discussing a variety of puzzles. The puzzle-based learning approach has a long tradition as the first mathematical puzzles were found in Sumerian texts that date back to around 2,500 BC The puzzles selected for the course satisfy most of the following criteria: a) Generality: educational puzzles explain some universal mathematical problem-solving principles; b) Simplicity: educational puzzles are easy to state and easy to remember; c) Eureka factor: educational puzzles often frustrate the problem-solver! Eventually a Eureka! moment is reached. The Eureka factor also implies that educational puzzles often have elementary solutions that are not obvious; d) Entertainment factor: educational puzzles are very entertaining! Such educational puzzles are used to illustrate basic concepts of critical thinking, mathematics, and problem-solving. The course presents some problem-solving rules and covers issues of understanding the problem and the role of intuition in problem-solving activities. Further, some mathematical problem-solving principles are discussed and elements of modelling, constraint-processing, optimization, probability, statistics, simulation, pattern recognition, and strategy are introduced.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMP SCI 1010
    Course Puzzle Based Learning
    Coordinating Unit Computer Science
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge SACE level 2 Maths Sciences
    Assessment Written exam and/or assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Cruz Izu

    Course Coordinator: Dr Cruz Izu

       Dr Cruz Izu
       Dr Lingqiao Liu
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1 Understand the need to undertake lifelong learning
    2 Be able to think about framing and solving unstructured problems.
    3 Understand problem-solving principles

    The above course learning outcomes are aligned with the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standard for the Professional Engineer.
    The course is designed to develop the following Elements of Competency: 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.5 2.1 2.2 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There is the course textbook:

    Puzzle-based Learning: Introduction to critical thinking, mathematics, and problem solving, Z Michalewicz & M Michalewicz, Hybrid Publishers Pty Ltd
    Recommended Resources
    Students are expected to attend lectures and workshop sessions. The workshop sessions will be crucial to developing your understanding of the course material, and will provide access to additional assistance from practical supervisors
    Online Learning
    Copies of lecture notes, lecture recordings and additional resources will be provided online through the myuni page at Discussion forums will also be made available on the this website. Students are expected to check the forums website frequently for announcements and new resources.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course aims to introduce students to a range of fundamental skills that they will need as professional Engineers. The course will be taught through a combination of lectures and workshops.

    Many examples will be worked on during the workshops. The workshops sessions will require students to individually prepare solutions to set questions which can then be worked on and assessed during the session. The purpose of these sessions is for students to apply the examples and theoretical concepts discussed in lectures, and prepare them to complete the assignments. 

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students are expected to attend all scheduled classes. In addition to the schedule contact hours, students are expected to spend 4-6 additional hours per week in preparation of assignment work, and reviewing lecture material.
    Learning Activities Summary










    Introduction to PBL

    The problem: what are you after?









    Intuition: how good is it?

    Intuition: how good is it?



    Assignment 1  released (due on 22/3)

    Workshop 1




    Modelling: let’s think about the problem a bit more

    Modelling: let’s think about the problem a bit more



    Assignment 2 (due on 29/3)

    Workshop 2




    Some mathematical principles

    Some mathematical principles



    Assignment 3 (due on 5/4)





    Constraints: How old are my children?

    Challenge Day I




    Assignment 4 (due on 12/4)

    Workshop 4




    Optimization: what is the best arrangement?




    Assignment 5 (due on 3/5)

    Workshop 5



    Semester break






    Semester break







    Optimization: what is the best arrangement?

    Challenge Day II



    Assignment 6 (due on 10/5)

    Workshop 6




    Probability: coins, dices, box and bears

    Probability: coins, dices, box and bears



    Assignment 7 (due on 17/5)

    Workshop 7




    Statistically speaking

    Statistically speaking



    Assignment 8 (due on 24/5)

    Workshop 8




    Let’s simulate

    Let’s simulate



    Assignment 9 (due on 31/5)

    Workshop 9




    Pattern recognition: what is next?

    Pattern recognition: what is next?



    Assignment 10 (due on 7/6)

    Workshop 10




    Course Review

    Challenge Day III




    Workshop 11

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Weighting (%) Individual/ Group Formative/ Summative
    Due (week)*
    Hurdle criteria Learning outcomes CBOK Alignment**
    Weekly assignments 35 Individual Formative / Summative Weeks 3-12 1. 2. 3. 1.1 1.2 2.1 2.2 2.4
    Tutorial participation 5 Individual Formative Weeks 2-12 3. 1.1 1.2 2.2 2.3 2.4
    Exam 60 Individual Summative Week 12 Min 40% 1. 2. 3. 1.1 1.2 2.2 2.4
    Total 100
    * The specific due date for each assessment task will be available on MyUni.
    This assessment breakdown complies with the University's Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy.
    This course has a hurdle requirement. Meeting the specified hurdle criteria is a requirement for passing the course.

    **CBOK is the Core Body of Knowledge for ICT Professionals defined by the Australian Computer Society. The alignment in the table above corresponds with the following CBOK Areas:

    1. Problem Solving
    1.1 Abstraction
    1.2 Design

    2. Professional Knowledge
    2.1 Ethics
    2.2 Professional expectations
    2.3 Teamwork concepts & issues
    2.4 Interpersonal communications
    2.5 Societal issues
    2.6 Understanding of ICT profession

    3. Technology resources
    3.1 Hardware & Software
    3.2 Data & information
    3.3 Networking

    4. Technology Building
    4.1 Programming
    4.2 Human factors
    4.3 Systems development
    4.4 Systems acquisition

    5.  ICT Management
    5.1 IT governance & organisational
    5.2 IT project management
    5.3 Service management 
    5.4 Security management
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Students must obtain at least 40% in the written exam component, and 50% overall, to pass the course.
    Assessment Detail
    Written exam: this will be a 2 hour open book exam. Questions will test the students’ understanding of concepts presented throughout the course, and their ability to put them to use to solve problems.

    Workshop and class participation: intended to assess the student’s knowledge in practical application of the concepts taught in lectures, specifically in designing and developing puzzle solutions. 

    Assignments: both formative and summative and extend the work done in the workshop sessions. Assignments are used to help assess whether the required graduate attributes are being developed. Written feedback will be provided for some of the assessment work.  Assignments are due one week after they are released.

    Assessment Type Proportion of that
    Due Week Learning
    CBOK Mappping*
    Problem Solving
    Problem Solving
    Ethics Professionalism Teamwork concepts Interpersonnal
    of Discipline
    Assignment 1 Formative 
    and  Summative
    10% week3 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 2 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week4 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 3 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week5 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 4 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week6 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 5 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week7 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 6 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week8 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 7 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week9 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 8 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week10 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 9 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week11 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 10 Formative
    and Summative
    10% week12 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Tutorial and Class Participation Formative 100% NA 3 5 5 3 3 3
    Written Exam Summative 100% Exam Period 1,2,3 5 5 3 3

    Due Dates: The assignment due dates will be made available on the course website.
    *CBOK categories are explained in section 4 of the ICT core body of knowlege. Numbers assigned correspond to the Bloom taxonomy (see page 26 of the same document).

    Practical exercises will be assessed during the tutorial sessions.

    Assignments will be submitted online, please refer to each assignment description for details.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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