Associate Professor of the Practice Susan Rodger, has been awarded $359,440 from the National Science Foundation's Education and Human Resources Division in the Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Program. Her three-year project is entitled "An Interactive Approach to Formal Languages and Automata with JFLAP."
PI Rodger developed an instructional software tool called JFLAP that allows one to explore the topics in the Formal Languages and Automata (FLA) course in a visual and interactive manner. JFLAP has been used around the world in over 40 countries. This project will develop an innovative way of teaching FLA that uses JFLAP to explore the abstract concepts while learning the formal theory, and evaluate JFLAP's effectiveness through an extensive study. The goal is to show that when using JFLAP in addition to the formal theory that students gain a better and deeper understanding of FLA. This project hopes to show that students are more confident in learning FLA and that instructors can easily adapt these materials to their courses.
Teaching materials will be developed mostly at Duke and evaluated at 12 sites. In addition to Duke the sites are UC Davis, University of North Carolina, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Houston, Emory University, U.S. Naval Academy, University of Richmond, Fayetteville State University, Norfolk State University, Winston-Salem State University and Virginia State University. Faculty at these sites will come to two meetings at Duke in summers 2005 and 2006 and teach using these materials for two years. These faculty will contribute to the teacher's materials with problems, syllabi and descriptions of JFLAP's use in teaching. Duke will prepare, collect and tabulate the evaluation data from all the sites, under the guidance of an outside evaluator from North Carolina State University. In addition, this project will do an extensive online survey of JFLAP's use around the world.