Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Designing and Implementing a Personalized Remedial Learning System for Enhancing the Programming Learning

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Designing and Implementing a Personalized Remedial Learning System for Enhancing the Programming Learning

Article excerpt

Introduction

Programming is an important fundamental skill in the fields of information science, engineering, management and education. It is also a basic prerequisite required of students majoring in the disciplines of natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Foreman (1988) notes that programming contains knowledge and skills required for the development of computer expertise and is also a key prerequisite for a comprehensive understanding of computer science. Although programming is a major fundamental subject for students in information sciences, learning to master programming languages is far from easy. Winslow (1996) observes that it takes more than ten years of training and experience for a beginning student to become a well-versed programmer. At present, programming languages are taught primarily via a teacher-centered approach, which fails to allow the instructor to identify problems encountered by individual students. A learner who cannot solve problems instantly in the course of learning gradually tends to lose interest in learning. Hence, it is important to find ways of teaching students to solve their own problems in learning a programming language.

In recent years, the learning environment has been changing due to the rapid development of the Internet and information technology. Zhang et al. (2004) note that the Internet and multimedia technologies are reshaping the way knowledge is delivered and that e-learning is becoming a real alternative to traditional classroom learning. The focus of learning has shifted over the past 20 years from an emphasis on traditional classroom learning and paper examinations to greater focus on e-learning and assessment environments, i.e., learning conducted or supported over the Internet. The Internet allows learners to access their learning tools easily at any time and at any place. In addition, e-learning can be used to support teaching in the classroom and also can offer a virtual classroom in which learners can complete their course work. Although several studies have suggested the benefits of developing an e-learning system for instruction, these systems still pose some problems for learners, including learner control, disorientation and cognitive overload (Ausubel, 1968; Conklin, 1987; Alomyan, 2004).

Learner Control: Individual learners are able to study independently on the Internet at home or in other places without instructors. Online learning enables a learner to download the learning materials related to a concept that he/she has to learn and to choose or arrange the learning sequence from the collected learning materials. However, some of the learning materials can be too difficult for students who have little prior knowledge or background knowledge. Ausubel (1968) notes that prior knowledge is the most important factor determining the achievements of learners during the learning process. As a result, learners without sufficient prior knowledge may not comprehend the concepts that they need to learn and enhance their learning performance (Gagne & Brown, 1961). Disorientation: With a faster, more accessible Internet, people these days tend to search and learn from the Internet for fragmented knowledge. Although they are versatile, these web sites generally follow no standards for content organization and presentation order. When these are posted on the Internet, collected and indexed by robots using keywords, and returned by powerful search engines, a vast number of homepages or learning objects is returned directly to a learner in no particular order. Chiou et al. (2010) note that all the learning materials in a curriculum are sequenced by hyper links in most web-based learning systems, but there is no concrete sequence without navigation support. Even if certain topics are related, a learner who may have little or no experience in the specific domain of study must still move forward and backward among the materials and figure out which page to read first. …

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