A Pedagogical Evaluation of New State Model Diagrams for Teaching Internetwork Technologies
Australian Computer Society published in association with the ACM Digital Library
Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Information Science
Curriculum based on internetworking devices is primarily based on the Command Line Interface (CLI) and case studies. However a single CLI command may produce output that is not only hierarchical but must also be interpreted - both represent learning difficulties for novices. It should also be noted that device status requires many different CLI commands. Internetworking curriculum also typically defines devices as 'black boxes' - this is not a good teaching strategy. New state models were designed that diagrammatically integrated relevant output from different CLI commands with protocol finite state information and protocol stacks by means of tables. The diagrams are modular and hierarchical thereby providing top down decomposition by means of levelling. Hyperlinks may be used to navigate between different state tables and diagrams. The models were used as the pedagogical foundation of internetworking curriculum and results compared with control groups who were taught in the standard manner. The students who were taught using the state models clearly demonstrated an understanding that was comparable to an expert in this field. It is well documented in education research that after successfully completing an examination it is not uncommon for the majority of students to demonstrate very poor long term retention of concepts. Students taught using the new state models clearly demonstrated concept retention six weeks after the final semester examinations.