ITECH1101 IT Problem Solving - improving our understanding

Week - Critical and Computational Thinking


For this lab, we will be improving our understanding of critical thinking, with a focus on computational thinking since this subset of critical thinking is heavily used in Information Technology.

Learning outcomes

K1. Explain fundamental strategies for problem solving
K4. Describe tools and techniques that can be used to model and describe problems S1. Decompose a problem and create goals and plans to solve that problem
A1. Apply problem solving strategies, tools and techniques to solve problems in a variety of domains

Lab Details

Task 1: The Time is Right

Completing this activity will help you:
- Determine possible outcomes of scenarios with changing states based on analysis of input data
- Extract relevant information from word problems to develop clearly articulated problem statements
- Identify and use appropriate models to organize and evaluate data
- Develop critical thinking skills
This activity is ideally completed in small groups and discussions with your peers are encouraged. If you are unable to complete this activity at the same time as other students, perhaps your friends or family could help with this? You will gain more from this activity if you can discuss it with other people so you learn about alternative strategies and models to those you first identify yourself.

Your tasks:
1) Is it possible to set up the timers so that a driver who gets a red light at the first intersection is able to drive through the remaining intersections without having to stop or slow down for red lights?

2) Can a driver who only just makes it through the first set of lights continue uninterrupted through the remaining four intersections?
Group Discussion: What strategies have been used? Why did you choose these strategies? How many different strategies have been used in the group?

Task 2: Develop your own activity

This is an assessable portfolio task.
Develop your own activity, similar to "Task 1: The Time is Right" but using a different scenario, that requires analysis of a system with changing states to determine what the states would be at any given point in time. These activities will be (anonymously) distributed to other students to complete.

Examples of different scenarios include:
• Working out whether an air-conditioner is on or off after a particular sequence of events
• Determining how far a person has travelled who travels different speeds over different types of terrain
• Working out timers for an automatic watering system

Your activity should be aimed at a level that poses a challenge to you personally. If you can complete it without needing to do any modelling or use any strategies, then it is too easy and you need to make it more challenging. Equally, it shouldn't be so difficult that it takes more than half an hour for you to complete.

Upload your completed activity AND its solution in your ePortfolio. This will be downloaded and distributed to other students at a later date. You do not need to include your name on the activity - teaching staff will be know it's yours because it's in your portfolio.

Task 3: Cause and Effect Table
Complete a cause and effect table that describes the causes and effects for using a credit card to pay for a purchase. Remember that not all credit card purchases will be accepted so you need to consider what causes and effects will be relevant for these scenarios.

Task 4: State-Activity Table
Complete a state-activity table for an EFTPOS machine, considering only the purchasing and refund functions (that is, you do not need to consider the back end processing for reconciling the payments). Think about what states the machine can be in, and what functions the machine can perform.

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