Teaching and Learning Computer Programming: Multiple Research Perspectives

By Richard E. Mayer | Go to book overview

6
E Unum Pluribus: Generating Alternative Designs
Elliot Soloway James Spohrer David Littman Yale University
I. Introduction: Motivation and Goals
II. How Variability is Currently Taught
III. Variability in Novice Programmer Problem Solving
A. Phases in the Novice Program Generation Process
B. Introducing Variation During Phase I: Understand Problem Specification
C. Introducing Variation During Phase II: Decompose Problem into Programmable Goals and Objects
D. Introducing Variation During Phase III: Select and Compose Plans to Solve Problem
IV. Concluding Remarks

ABSTRACT

This chapter identifies one critical aspect of teaching problem solving skills -- teaching students to explore alternative ways of solving the same problem. In the context of designing computer programs, we show how current attempts to teach students to consider alternatives is too tied to the product that is the result of a problem solving episode rather than to the process that leads to the product. Focusing on the process, rather than the product, we illustrate how students can be encouraged to explore variability in early phases of the program design process. We suggest several heuristics that can be taught to students so that they can productively control their problem solving processes and avoid becoming locked into a single approach.

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