Teaching and Learning Computer Programming: Multiple Research Perspectives

By Richard E. Mayer | Go to book overview

assess whether these materials help students learn explicit programming strategies.

This study describes the relationship between observable classroom characteristics and student learning. It suggests some factors that appear to influence the effectiveness of programming instruction. Many recent studies of how experts solve problems suggest strategies that students need to learn. Examination of effective programming teachers suggests that those teachers who can explicitly model the strategies used by experts are more effective than others. An interesting question is whether modeling is the most effective mechanism for communicating this information or whether the information could be communicated more abstractly through lectures or principles. We suspect that modeling is particularly important in this instance because the skills students need to acquire are extremely complex and often difficult to communicate verbally.

The recent literature on time on-task or learning time is compatible with our finding that students need time to work at computers in order to succeed in programming. In the case of programming, time on the computer is almost identical to time on-task, because students tend to be extremely diligent when using a computer. An interesting question for further research is why this diligence results. Presumably, a factor in such attentiveness is the feedback available in the situation.

These investigations took place in classrooms where the fundamental goal was to prepare students for success on the Advanced Placement Test. As a result, these can be seen as particularly realistic settings. It is interesting that neither time on-task nor explicit instruction prevailed in the most successful classes, but rather that these two factors were most effective when balanced.

Perhaps an implication of these investigations is the need to integrate varying perspectives on classroom learning in order to fully understand the complexity of this dynamic system. More detailed investigations and analyses are necessary in order to fully understand this process. We hope to provide such results in the future.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This material is based on research supported by the National Science Foundation under grant DPE-84-70364. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


REFERENCES

Amarel, M. ( 1983). "The classroom: An instructional setting for teachers, students, and the computer". In A. C. Wilkinson (Ed.), "Classroom computers and cognitive science" (pp. 15-29). New York: Academic Press.

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