Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effects of a Structured Resource-Based Web Issue-Quest Approach on Students' Learning Performances in Computer Programming Courses

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effects of a Structured Resource-Based Web Issue-Quest Approach on Students' Learning Performances in Computer Programming Courses

Article excerpt

Introduction

Computer knowledge and programming skills have been recognized as a core competence in the 21st century (Kirby & Riley, 2006). In the past decade, educational institutes all around the world have considered basic computer knowledge and programming skills as a fundamental curriculum at all school levels (Esteves, Fonseca, Morgado, & Martins, 2011; Jeon, Kim, Hong, & Kim, 2014; Kordaki, 2010). For example, in the United States, the issue of teaching computer programming languages in school has been widely discussed for decades (Soloway, 1993). In Taiwan, students learn basic computer knowledge since the third grade, and basic programming skills since tenth grade; moreover, many colleges consider computer programming language courses as a fundamental curriculum for all graduate students (Wang, Huang, & Hwang, 2015). In Thailand, the higher education sector of the Ministry of Education has promoted computer and information technology skills, including computer programming concepts and skills in colleges since 2000 (Chookaew, Wanichsan, Hwang, & Panjaburee, 2016).

Meanwhile, programming has been identified as a course with a high drop-out rate (Gomes, Areias, Henriques, & Mendes, 2008). Researchers have pointed out several factors affecting students' programming skills, including the lack of practice (Chen, Chang, & Wang, 2008) and insufficient or incorrect fundamental concepts of programming (Eckerdal, 2009). For example, students who lack the concept of the structure of programming are likely to write ill-structured programs (Ala-Mutka, 2004). In addition to their textbooks, most novices acquire computer and programming knowledge from the web, which provides non-structured open resources comprising various kinds of information. Therefore, many studies have reported the importance of conducting web-based learning activities for strengthening students' competences of acquiring knowledge (Kuo, Hwang, & Lee, 2012; Land & Greene, 2000; Rae & Samuels, 2011; Taradi, Taradi, Radie, & Pokrajac, 2005). The aim of facilitating student-centered learning through web technologies is to foster students' abilities of data collection, extraction and application, as well as dealing with forthcoming challenges or problems (Ates & Cataloglu, 2007; Pimta, Tayraukham, & Nuangchalerm, 2009; Land & Greene, 2000). Researchers have called such web-based learning activities that engage students in searching for information on the web, selecting information, abstracting important and relevant content and summarizing their findings for investigating a sp ecified issue or topic "Web Issue-Quest" (Sung, Hwang, & Chang, 2015).

Several previous studies have reported that students' Web Issue-Quest ability could be insufficient if they lack experience or are not well trained (Bilal, 2001; Bilal, 2002). Researchers have further indicated that the type of web resources could also be another important factor affecting students' learning perceptions and outcomes in Web Issue-Quest learning activities (Jonassen, 1991; Merrill, 1991); that is, in such an activity, the information sources play an important role. Students' learning perceptions and performances could be significantly affected by the structure and content of the information sources (Fessakis, Gouli, & Mavroudi, 2012; Taradi, Taradi, Radie, & Pokrajac, 2005; Tsai, Lee, & Shen, 2013).

However, few studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of learning with different web resources on students' learning performances in computer programming courses, not to mention the investigation of factors affecting their learning outcomes using statistical analysis (Jaeger & Adair, 2014; Senocak, 2009). Therefore, in this study, a structured resource-based web issue-quest approach is proposed to facilitate programming concept learning. An experiment has been conducted to evaluate the effect of the proposed approach on students' learning achievements and perceptions in the "structured programming" unit of a high school fundamental computer programming course. …

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