A qualitative think aloud study of the early Neo-Piagetian stages of reasoning in novice programmers

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Conference Proceeding
Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology Series, 2013, 136 pp. 87 - 95
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© 2013, Australian Computer Society, Inc. Recent research indicates that some of the difficulties faced by novice programmers are manifested very early in their learning. In this paper, we present data from think aloud studies that demonstrate the nature of those difficulties. In the think alouds, novices were required to complete short programming tasks which involved either hand executing ("tracing") a short piece of code, or writing a single sentence describing the purpose of the code. We interpret our think aloud data within a neo-Piagetian framework, demonstrating that some novices reason at the sensorimotor and preoperational stages, not at the higher concrete operational stage at which most instruction is implicitly targeted.
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