Improving the Teaching and Learning of Programming Languages: An Approach for Course Design

By Aguilar-Burguete, Gabriela | International Journal of Instructional Media, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Improving the Teaching and Learning of Programming Languages: An Approach for Course Design


Aguilar-Burguete, Gabriela, International Journal of Instructional Media


INTRODUCTION

Some studies suggest that the drop out and failure rate of programming courses is as high as 30 percent[l]. We think that it is possible to decrease that number, improving the design of courses of programming languages.

This paper posits an approach for the design of a programming language course. The proposed approach consists of 7 steps:

Step 1: Rectification of Negative Beliefs

Step 2. Knowledge and Abilities Background Evaluations

Step 3. Selecting the Set of Problems

Step 4. Designing the Syllabus

Step 5. Teaching and Learning of Programming Concepts

Step 6. Fostering Programming Abilities

Step 7. Evaluation of the New Acquired Knowledge.

The posit approach considers the following aspects: Emotional and academic.

The emotional aspect is considered in Step 1 and the academic aspect is considered in Steps 2-7.

In Step 1 learners start the teaching-learning process rectifying their negative beliefs in order to include the learners' emotional aspect.

In the Step 2 instructors determine the starting point of the course.

In Step 3 instructors design the pool of problems to be used in the teaching process. This selection can be done based on the learners' intelligence types and special interests.

In Step 4 instructors select the subjects and the order in which they are going to be taught.

In Step 5 programming concepts are taught. In Step 6 programming abilities are fostered. And in Step 7 the evaluation of the new acquired knowledge is done.

The posit approach for the design of programming language courses includes the use of well-known subjects such as Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) [10], Bloom's Taxonomy Hierarchy [12], and the learning strategies: Modeling, problem solving and project development [13]. However, the application of those subjects in a course design for the teaching and learning of programming languages is the contribution of this work. This paper is organized as follows: Section 2 introduces related research. Section 3 presents the posit approach as the contribution of this work and at the end of this paper conclusions are given.

RELATED RESEARCH

There are some previous works about how to teach some specific subjects of a given programming language such as those of [2-7]. However, these works are about teaching-learning activities.

We suggest to the instructors to start designing the course in order to focus their efforts in the teaching of programming concepts and the development of programming abilities.

Furthermore, the posit approach tries to be general enough to be applied in the design of courses of programming languages such as Object-Oriented (00), Functional Languages, and Concept-Oriented Programming (COP) with its implementation using an Object-Oriented Programming Language (OOPL) or NLP++.

THE APPROACH

This Section introduces the approach for the design of programming language courses. The approach consists of 7 steps. These Steps are introduced below.

Step 1. Rectification Of Negative Beliefs

There are previous research about the correlation between positive beliefs and the academic achievement [8,9].

The result of the study done by [8] suggest that, "in some instances, the self-beliefs are significant predictors of their subsequent achievement in college" [8]. Based on this result, and in order to improve the learners' academic achievement, we incorporated the rectification of the learners' negative beliefs as a first step in the approach.

Furthermore, the study results given by [9] show that self-efficacy for programming is influenced by previous programming experience and increases as a student progresses through an introductory programming course.

In Step 1 learners start the teaching-learning process rectifying their negative beliefs in order to:

* Eliminate negative experiences of prior courses. …

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