A Hands-on Learning Approach to Introducing Computer Organization and Architecture to Early-college Students

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



We present a design and implementation of a lower-level computer organization and architecture course with hands-on components presented as blended-learning modules that are collectively designed to introduce core computer design concepts primarily to college students studying applied science and technology programs, such as computer science, and information technology.

With a particular focus on single-board computers and associated hardware modules, students are introduced to core computer components early in their coursework, and encouraged to study advanced engineering concepts as higher elective courses to help them better understand the underlying design of hardware modules. Hands-on activities and problem-based modules are re-designed with the flexibility to be applied in settings that involve all in-classroom cohorts, as well as courses offered in synchronous and/or asynchronous online learning methodologies, which is becoming of particular importance to educators under COVID-19 implications.

First cohort of this newly redesigned course was offered in Fall 2019, when, in the middle of the semester, all instructional methodology had to be switched to fully-online after health measures in October-November 2019. Second and third cohorts of the course are currently being offered in 2020-2021 academic year. Anonymous research data collected with these three cohorts of the revised course show that re-design of the course improved overall course reviews, while meeting educational goals to introduce students to core knowledge areas in computer organization and architecture.


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access.