An influence model of the experience of learning programming

Adamopoulos, F 2017, An influence model of the experience of learning programming, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Business IT and Logistics, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title An influence model of the experience of learning programming
Author(s) Adamopoulos, F
Year 2017
Abstract Learning to program is difficult for many students all over the world with programming courses often
experiencing high failure and attrition rates. The teaching of programming is still considered a major
challenge by educators. At the same time, programming is becoming a key skill required not only of IT
graduates but also of students in other disciplines and is becoming more important to a wider range of
people. Today’s university students also practice their learning in an extended learning environment
that extends well beyond the classroom. There has been considerable research into the teaching of
programming in the computing education field, with many studies focussing on content and delivery.
More recently, researchers have recognised the need for a greater understanding of how students
experience learning to program, from the student’s perspective.

This study contributes to this growing body of knowledge by exploring, in depth, the wide range of
influences on the student learning experience of programming. A qualitative study was conducted that
interviewed 31 Information Systems students about their experiences in learning programming. The
interview transcripts were analysed using a Grounded Theory methodology. A new theory of the
Influences on the Student Learning Experience of Programming was developed from the analysis, which
is more holistic and comprehensive than previous theories.

The learning experience of programming involves a complex interaction of a wide range of influences. A
major influence is the student’s Perceived Personal Relevance towards programming. Students who
perceive that programming is relevant to their future career goals are far more motivated to learn it.
Perceived Personal Relevance, together with Learning Trait and Skill Level describe the Learner Nature
of the student, which influences their Learning Behaviours. The influences within Learning Behaviours
include Core Learning Perspectives (Ownership of learning, Learning Task Intent and Problem solving
Behaviours), Patterns of Collaboration and Patterns of Information Use.

Patterns of Collaboration describe how students interact with and use their Personal Networks, and
include four levels of dependency: One Way Dependent, Two Way Co-Dependent, Collaborative
Independent and Solitary Independent. Patterns of Information Use describe the different ways
students interact with and use their information sources.

The theory includes Programming Learner Profiles, which encapsulate the relationships and influences
between Learner Nature and Learning Behaviours. Each profile describes, in essence, the nature and
behaviour of different types of students. Seven distinct Programming Learner Profiles were identified in
the study: Reluctant Beginner, Willing Beginner, Keen Beginner, Budding Manager, Budding Practitioner,
Budding Developer and Advanced Developer.

This new theory gives educators a greater insight into what students are thinking and doing when
learning to program and potential strategies that can improve learning outcomes.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Business IT and Logistics
Subjects Education not elsewhere classified
Information Systems not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Programming Education
Student Experience
Learning Behaviours
Collaborative Learning
Information Behaviour
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Created: Wed, 14 Feb 2018, 09:07:08 EST by Denise Paciocco
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