Probing the minds of novice programmers through guided learning

Mohamed Shuhidan, S 2012, Probing the minds of novice programmers through guided learning, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Computer Science and Information Technology, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Probing the minds of novice programmers through guided learning
Author(s) Mohamed Shuhidan, S
Year 2012
Abstract Learning to program is known to be difficult and problematic for a significant number of novice programmers. The problem has generated interest in a range of enquiries and has given impetus to the need for a teaching-research nexus, to provide a better understanding of novice programming problems. Our methodology involved is action research, conducted over five cycles. The first two cycles involve our study of novice responses to summative assessment. We analyse two sets of summative assessments in introductory programming courses in order to understand the answers provided by novices and the types of errors they typically make. In this thesis, we focus our analysis on multiple choice questions. We discuss the novice levels of difficulty to analyse novice responses to the multiple choice questions. We also define and discuss measures such as instructor levels of complexity to understand the intentions of the instructors when testing novices via summative assessments. In the third cycle we study the instructor perspectives to summative assessment and particularly into multiple choice questions. We conduct further research on instructor perspectives as we found that there are inadequacies in the levels of complexity which they perceive to exist in exam questions. In the fourth and fifth cycles we detail the development and evaluation of the guided learning tool. The guided learning tool is developed around the idea of probing the minds of novices as they use the tool to learn programming. This provides for an adaptive, learner-centric experience, allowing the student a self-directed learning environment. The tool, combined with the framework, allows instructors and novices to monitor novice progress and identify the strong and weak links between the components learned. Instructors may benefit by improving their teaching, as the guided learning tool helps them to identify “what” and “where” the learning difficulties are, and not take for granted the areas or components of learning that they believe the novices have easily understood. Novices may identify their weak components and work on the particular topics to improve their skills in learning to program. In the survey of the tool, we received approximately half of the responses mentioning that the questions in the guided learning tool help them to remember and understand programming concepts, which support our goal of the guided learning tool that is to aid novices to remember and understand programming concepts. Overall, we hope that the guided learning tool may prevent students from falling into the cognitive traps that often ensnare novice programmers.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Computer Science and Information Technology
Keyword(s) Programming
Programming Errors
Novice Programmers
Programming Instructors
Multiple Choice Questions
Bloom’s Taxonomy
SOLO Taxonomy
Taxonomy of Programming
Summative Assessment
Computer Science Education
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Created: Fri, 02 Nov 2012, 13:21:45 EST by Kelly Duong
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