Teaching and Learning with BlueJ: An Evaluation of a Pedagogical Tool

By Van Haaster, Kelsey; Hagan, Dianne | Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology, Annual 2004 | Go to article overview

Teaching and Learning with BlueJ: An Evaluation of a Pedagogical Tool


Van Haaster, Kelsey, Hagan, Dianne, Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology


Introduction

The BlueJ programming environment (Kolling & Rosenberg, 1996) was designed and implemented by Michael Kolling and John Rosenberg in order to improve the teaching and learning of introductory programming in an object-oriented style using Java as the implementation language. BlueJ gives students a graphical picture of the classes and objects in a system, allows students to interact with them directly, simplifies testing of methods and classes, and removes the necessity for much difficult and confusing Java code such as the main method in a class.

An earlier paper (Hagan & Markham, 2000b) described the advantages of using BlueJ to teach Java to novice programmers, and the kinds of help offered to students, and reported on the results of an initial evaluation of the effectiveness of BlueJ. This evaluation was done during the first semester of the use of BlueJ, in 1999, when it was still a comparatively unstable Beta version and many students found its installation procedure complicated. That study found that, of the one-third of students who participated in the study, most warmed to BlueJ during the semester after an initial period of frustration, and felt by the end of semester that BlueJ had been a help to them in learning Java. However, these self-selected students had significantly better results in the unit than students who did not participate in the study, and therefore it was felt that more evaluation was needed.

This is a follow-up study to that first one. It examines the perceptions of students in the second of the two consecutive first year programming units, when they have become more experienced in programming and in using BlueJ. It was hoped that, by this time, students would no longer confuse BlueJ and Java and would be able to appreciate the benefits that BlueJ offers.

The Two First Year Programming Units

The first of these two units focuses on the basics of object-oriented programming. It covers classes and objects; message passing; sequence, selection, and repetition; basic data types and some library classes; arrays of basic data types and objects; objects as attributes of other classes; and testing of classes and methods. As part of their assessment, students are required individually to write a program that uses six to eight interacting classes, including at least one that is supplied by the teaching staff. Examples of assignments that have been used include a board game, a video shop, a gift registry system and an online cinema ticketing system.

Most students find this unit difficult and time consuming. This is partly because there is a great deal to learn, but also because it is their first semester at university. Many of them are disoriented for weeks, learning how the university system works, and not used to being expected to motivate themselves to work consistently on several different units. International students are adjusting to a different language and culture, finding accommodation, and generally concentrating on many other things besides learning to program. For these reasons, we offer a great deal of help with their programming units, as documented in Hagan & Markham (2000b). Student resources include lectures, discussion classes and lab sessions, a helpdesk staffed by tutors in the unit, availability of lecturers and tutors for personal contact by email and in person, and a unit website including an anonymous feedback facility. The unit assessment consists of two unit tests during the semester, three stages of the assignment, and a final examination.

At the end of the first semester, students are expected to be able to design and write small programs in Java, debug them, and test them properly. There is an emphasis on software engineering principles such as coding standards, test strategies and maintainability of programs.

By the time students reach the second programming unit, they are expected to have settled into university life and know how to learn and motivate themselves. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Teaching and Learning with BlueJ: An Evaluation of a Pedagogical Tool
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.