Falling Behind Early and Staying Behind When Learning to Program

Darwin College
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Philosophy of Programming Interest Group, 2014, pp. 77 - 88 (12)
Issue Date:
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We have performed a study of novice programmers, using students at two different institutions, who were learning different programming languages. Influenced by the work of Dehnadi and Bornat, we gave our students a simple test, of our own devising, in their first three weeks of formal instruction in programming. That test only required knowledge of assignment statements. We found a wide performance difference among our two student cohorts. Furthermore, our test was a good indication of how students performed about 10 weeks later, in their final programming exam. We interpret our results in terms of our neo-Piagetian theory of how novices learn to program.
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