CAP-B: Increasing Students Career Competencies Skills in Network Courses using Project-based Learnin

Janett Walters-Willliams
Assistant Professor
Hampton University

In today’s world networking influences people’s everyday lives with the Internet, email, IoT, Social Networks and Cloud Computing. This has led to an increase in the demand for the appropriate networking workforce and this demand is projected according to the Bureau of Labor to increase by 6% from 2016 to 2026 and companies expect universities to provide the human resources to meet this demand. Although universities and colleges have stepped up efforts in training these technical personnel field of networking is complex and unpredictable making it challenging to study and teach. This is because it is interdisciplinary combining the fields of Computer Science, Information Technology, Computer Engineering, Mathematics and Telecommunication. This combination presences CN with many abstract technical concepts and jargons which are difficult to explain and understand as well as a broad range of topics. Rapid changes in these fields also produce new terms, topics and skills sets that are constantly being added to the knowledge base to be taught. These complexities affect the teaching and learning ability of CN as it depends heavily on the theoretical and practical applications of the combined scientific and engineering disciplines.

Guiding Questions
Originally the course was taught by traditional lecture producing the problem of how to help students make the cognitive leap that connects their theoretical knowledge with practical experience. This is also linked to the problem that employers are seeking graduates who can develop a plan, design and/or create a solution that addresses problems from a holistic view and not ones who just examine problems in a vacuum that lack a well-defined answer. This research seeks to answer these questions by increasing students’ cognitive expertise, and practical skills and as a by-product increase their competency levels in HOTS skills as desired by employers and self-efficacy in Networking.

This research since implementation has been taught in a HBCU, teaching the underrepresented African American minority group producing network competent students who can increase the number of African American in the ICT workforce. CAP-B has been introduced to the university community as have also been introduced to HBCU and HSI faculties twice at the Google Faculty in Residence program. The research has also allowed for the creation of a Network lab and teaching material now in use.

Broader Impact
CAP-B has completed 2 years in addition to its pilot and in each year students’ performance has increased through the course. Analysis was done using the Welch t-Test, Wilcon Signed Rank, Mann Whitney Test and One-Way ANOVA test with criterion for the statistical significance level, α set at 0.05 for all tests. With the assumption that there was a normal symmetrical distribution of the sample data comparison of pre- and post- assessments reveal vast increase in student knowledge with 100% passes at the end of the course. Examination of their HOTs skills and self-efficacy also shows great increases.


Bruce Chittenden, Hampton University