COMP SCI 1010 - Puzzle Based Learning

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2023

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 Mathematical Methods
    Assessment Written exam and/or assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Weitong Chen

    Lecturers:  Dr Cruz Izu
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • 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 watch/attend lectures and workshop sessions.
    It is important to catch up with lecture materials prior to each workshop session.  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 7-10 additional hours per week in preparation of assignment work, and reviewing lecture material.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The course cover the following problem solving topics, roughly one topic per week.

    1. Introduction to the course
    2. The problem: what are you after?
    3. Intuition: how good is it?
    4. Modelling: let’s think about the problem a bit more 
    5. Some mathematical principles
    6. Constraints: How old are my children?
    7. Optimization: what is the best arrangement?
    8. Probability: coins, dices, box and bear
    9. Statistically speaking
    10. Let’s simulate
    11. Pattern recognition: what is next?

    Weekly workshops start in week 2, and fortnightly assignment in week 4.

  • 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**
    Fornightly assignments 25 Individual Formative / Summative Weeks 4-12 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
    Quizzes 6 Individual Formative Weeks 1-5 2. 3.  1.1 1.2
    Mid-semester Quiz  14 Individual Summative Week 7 1. 2. 3. 1.1 1.2 2.2 2.4
    Final exam   50 Individual  Summative    n/a 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
    Assessment in this course will consist of a variety of methods to evaluate students' understanding and application of the concepts presented. The different forms of assessment include assignments, workshop and class participation, quizzes, a mid-semester quiz, and a final exam.

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

    Workshop and class participation are intended to evaluate students' knowledge in the practical application of the concepts taught in lectures, with a specific focus on designing and developing puzzle solutions.

    Quizzes will be given three times, from week 1 to week 5, to test students' understanding of the concepts presented throughout the course.

    The mid-semester quiz, which takes place in week 7, will evaluate students' understanding of the course concepts and their ability to apply them to solve problems.

    The final exam is a 2-hour open book exam that takes place during the exam period. This exam will test students' understanding of the concepts presented throughout the course and their ability to apply them to solve problems.

    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
    20% week 4 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 2 Formative
    and Summative
    20% week 6  1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 3 Formative
    and Summative
    20% week 8 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 4 Formative
    and Summative
    20% week 10 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Assignment 5 Formative
    and Summative
    20% week 12 1,2,3 5 5 3 3 3
    Tutorial and Class Participation Formative 45% NA 3 5 5 3 3 3
    Quizzes Formative 55% week 1-5 1,2,3 5 5 3 3
    Mid-semester Quiz Summative 22% Week 7 1,2,3 5 5
    Final Exam Summative 78% Exam Period 1,2,3 5 5

    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

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