Teaching Computer Programming: A Connectionist View of Pedagogical Change

By Yuen, Allan H. K. | Australian Journal of Education, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Teaching Computer Programming: A Connectionist View of Pedagogical Change


Yuen, Allan H. K., Australian Journal of Education


One of the major issues of teaching computer programming is concerned with determining pedagogical factors that contribute to students' learning and instructional improvement. Classroom teachers are the keys to making learning happen as well as improving teaching in schools. Teachers' perspectives on teaching affect how teachers perceive the nature of the subject, the problems of instruction and how they adopt solutions or ways to improve instruction. Teachers' views of knowledge have great impact on teachers' perspectives and their pedagogical practices. Over the years, two predominant computational theories of mind have emerged from the study of artificial intelligence, namely, the symbolic and the connectionist models. In this article, I argue, based on a qualitative study of 12 computer studies teachers in Hong Kong, that the connectionist view provides an alternative way of thinking about understanding and knowledge which leads to better insight on teaching and facilitates pedagogical change.

Introduction

Computer programming has been a subject widely taught in schools since the 1980s (Mayer, 1988; Nickerson, Perkins, & Smith, 1985; Papert, 1980). Papert encourages a new kind of learning environment which demands `free contact' between children and computers. Children, in getting the computer to proceed on developing computer programs, also engage themselves in thinking development. He envisioned that powerful intellectual skills are developed in the programming process. His advocacy for computer programming as a worthwhile educational domain seemed to have implications for the instructional methods as well as the expected outcomes of teaching and learning computer programming in schools (Mayer, 1988). Research in the past two decades or more has supported the view that the teaching issue does not simply refer to the delivery of programming skills but paves the way for the cultivation of a higher level of intellectual development. Jonassen (1996, p. 233) puts forward the idea that `computer programming is more likely to be used as a mindtool if it is taught more as a problem-solving tool than as an academic subject to be mastered'.

Based on the investigation of the social characteristics of effective learning of BASIC and LOGO, Webb and Lewis (1988) suggest that detailed analysis of the social context can bring important insights into the nature of effective classroom learning environments. Sloan and Linn (1988) also suggest that a careful analysis of classroom conditions can give useful information about the nature of effective instruction for programming. Perkins, Schwartz, and Simons (1988) argue that the pedagogical environment is crucial in learning computer programming. Nevertheless it is widely agreed that learning to program is difficult (Smith & Webb, 2000). A number of recent studies attempt to develop and examine useful tools in helping students learn programming, such as algorithm animation (Guimaraes & de Lucena, 1995; Kann, Lindeman, & Heller, 1997), program simulation (Thomas & Upah, 1996; Yuen, 1999) and visualisation tool (Smith & Webb, 2000). However one of the major issues of teaching computer programming is concerned with determining pedagogical factors that contribute to students' learning and instructional improvement.

Classroom teachers are the keys to making learning happen as well as improving teaching in schools. The improvement of instruction in education is a complex professional challenge to teachers. This paper will start by developing an initial theory of teachers' perspectives on the teaching of computer programming and will explore the underpinning pedagogical assumptions reflected in their perspectives. Teachers' perspectives are likely to impact on their instruction and the change of teachers' perspectives is the first major breakthrough for instructional improvement. I argue that the connectionist view of understanding provides an alternative way of thinking that breaks the taken-for-granted perspectives of teachers, leads to better insight on teaching and facilitates pedagogical change. …

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

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

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

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
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.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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 article

Teaching Computer Programming: A Connectionist View of Pedagogical Change
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

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.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, 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."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.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.