The Neglected Middle Novice Programmer: Reading and Writing without Abstracting

National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
20th Annual Conference of the National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications, 2007, pp. 133 - 140
Issue Date:
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Many teachers of novice programmers have lamented that students either seem to have a natural gift for programming, or have no gift for it at all. In this paper, we discuss a third group of students, the middle novice programmer. At the completion of their first semester of programming, these students can manifest a strong concrete grasp of the semantics of basic programming language constructs, by hand executing code, but they cannot reason about code at a higher goal/plan level. The research evidence presented in this paper for the existence of these middle novice programmers is from the analysis of twelve multiple choice questions, which students attempted as part of an end-of-first-semester exam.
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