NSF LogoNSF Award Abstract - #0442513

An Interactive Approach to Formal Languages and Automata with JFLAP

Intial Amendment Date April 7, 2005
Latest Amendment Date April 7, 2005
Award Number 0442513
Award Instrument Standard Grant
Program Manager R. Stephen Cunningham
DUE Division of Undergraduate Education
EHR Directorate for Education & Human Resources
Start Date May 1, 2005
Expires April 30, 2008 (Estimated)
Awarded Amount to Date $359440
Investigator(s) Susan Rodger rodger@cs.duke.edu(Principal Investigator)
Sponsor Duke University
334 North Building
Durham, NC 27708 919/684-3030
Field Application(s) 0116000 Human Subjects
Program Reference Code(s) SMET,9178
Program Element Code(s) 7427


Computer Science (31) Almost all Formal Languages and Automata (FLA) textbooks present theoretical material in a formal manner with little visualization and no feedback. This project is developing an innovative way of teaching FLA that uses the JFLAP instructional software tool to explore abstract concepts while learning the formal theory. It is also evaluating JFLAP's effectiveness through an extensive study. The goal is to show that when using JFLAP in addition to the formal theory, students gain a better and deeper understanding of FLA. Intellectual Merit: The material developed in this proposal is providing an interactive, discovery-based approach to learning. Students can receive immediate feedback on problems, and solve types of problems that are difficult to do with pencil and paper. Broader Impacts: This project is working with 11 institutions, four of which are minority non-PhD granting institutions. Its approach gives students a more hands-on approach to learning this theoretical material. JFLAP lets faculty relate the more theoretical FLA course to other computer science courses by addressing similar issues such as testing, debugging, and run time analysis. Dissemination includes enhanced software, a JFLAP user manual, a hands-on textbook, an online teacher's guide, papers, and four faculty workshops at conferences.

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