The Human Computer

Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges


Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

The Human Computer is a novel, fun, interactive classroom activity for introductory computer science courses (that focus on programming) that uses a metaphor of teamwork, in which a group of students are given a problem to solve and each student acts as a single function in the solution. When a student wishes to declare a variable, s/he fills out a note card with the name and any data assigned to the variable. This data can be passed between students by value, in which the data is verbally conveyed, or by reference, in which the note card itself changes hands. Initial trials of the activity have shown a better understanding of function interaction and parameter passing, which improves more upon repeated trials.