Innovating Computer Programming Pedagogy: The AI-Lab Framework for Generative AI Adoption
Author(s)Ethan Dickey, Andres Bejarano, Chirayu Garg
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Over the last year, the ascent of Generative AI (GenAI) has raised concerns about its impact on core skill development, such as problem-solving and algorithmic thinking, in Computer Science students. Preliminary anonymous surveys show that at least 48.5% of our students use GenAI for homework. With the proliferation of these tools, the academic community must contemplate the appropriate role of these tools in education. Neglecting this might culminate in a phenomenon we term the "Junior-Year Wall," where students struggle in advanced courses due to prior over-dependence on GenAI. Instead of discouraging GenAI use, which may unintentionally foster covert usage, our research seeks to answer: "How can educators guide students' interactions with GenAI to preserve core skill development during their foundational academic years?" We introduce "AI-Lab," a pedagogical framework for guiding students in effectively leveraging GenAI within core collegiate programming courses. This framework accentuates GenAI's benefits and potential as a pedagogical instrument. By identifying and rectifying GenAI's errors, students enrich their learning process. Moreover, AI-Lab presents opportunities to use GenAI for tailored support such as topic introductions, detailed examples, corner case identification, rephrased explanations, and debugging assistance. Importantly, the framework highlights the risks of GenAI over-dependence, aiming to intrinsically motivate students towards balanced usage. This approach is premised on the idea that mere warnings of GenAI's potential failures may be misconstrued as instructional shortcomings rather than genuine tool limitations. Additionally, AI-Lab offers strategies for formulating prompts to elicit high-quality GenAI responses. For educators, AI-Lab provides mechanisms to explore students' perceptions of GenAI's role in their learning experience.

Citation: Ethan Dickey and Andres Bejarano and Chirayu Garg, Innovating Computer Programming Pedagogy: The AI-Lab Framework for Generative AI Adoption,