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Learning to program in a connected world: a study of 1st year undergraduates

Learning to program in a connected world: a study of 1st year undergraduates
Learning to program in a connected world: a study of 1st year undergraduates
Every year thousands of students arrive at university to be taught an introduction to programming. Any introductory course needs to be technically robust and utilise an appropriate range of methods to establish common foundation skills on which to build in subsequent years. Recent technological changes provide many more opportunities for student to gain access to resources which can support learning formally and informally. Understanding how students go through this process can be valuable for instructors, whilst crafting courses, which realistically develop independent learning skills using online materials, will equip students to develop their technical skills and expertise throughout their future careers.

Rapid and on-going technological changes mean that often students and working programmers everyday practices are rather different from those which were predominant when much of the existing literature on learning to program was written. Those texts date from an era when learning to program and computer science educational resources were restricted to paper, labs and the lecture room. However, as the Web is changing the world, so it also changes students’ approaches to learning formally and informally.

This study focuses on investigating learning practice of undergraduates and asks the question how do learning practices evolve as programmers move from novice to experienced. The subjects of the study are undergraduates who were taught how to program in an introductory programming module in the University of Southampton.

A mixed methodology which combined quantitative and qualitative approaches was adopted, to gather evidence throughout the process as the students learnt to program, focussing on identifying does when learning to program. The findings are based on surveys, interviews and observations that were administered over the duration of a programming course for undergraduates.

This study presents and analyses the findings of an investigation into the attitudes and behaviours of first year undergraduates learning to program in this changed context. It also proposes, a systematic way to gather evidence which can be used to review or change the overall learning design of such teaching. A reusable research framework is presented, which could be applied not only those learning to program but also in broader educational settings.

The study uses a range of measures to determine students’ strategies to cope with course requirements, and their use of adjunct resources are evaluated and documented. The thesis provides evidence which may be especially valuable for academics preparing and revising teaching programmes offering insights into what different types of students actually do when learning to program especially how they integrate and evolve their use of the Web to enhance their learning.
Shi, Jian
c95ef481-d29c-465b-9c38-8ba137ad5a42
Shi, Jian
c95ef481-d29c-465b-9c38-8ba137ad5a42
White, Susan
5f9a277b-df62-4079-ae97-b9c35264c146

(2016) Learning to program in a connected world: a study of 1st year undergraduates. University of Southampton, Physical Sciences and Engineering, Doctoral Thesis, 231pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Every year thousands of students arrive at university to be taught an introduction to programming. Any introductory course needs to be technically robust and utilise an appropriate range of methods to establish common foundation skills on which to build in subsequent years. Recent technological changes provide many more opportunities for student to gain access to resources which can support learning formally and informally. Understanding how students go through this process can be valuable for instructors, whilst crafting courses, which realistically develop independent learning skills using online materials, will equip students to develop their technical skills and expertise throughout their future careers.

Rapid and on-going technological changes mean that often students and working programmers everyday practices are rather different from those which were predominant when much of the existing literature on learning to program was written. Those texts date from an era when learning to program and computer science educational resources were restricted to paper, labs and the lecture room. However, as the Web is changing the world, so it also changes students’ approaches to learning formally and informally.

This study focuses on investigating learning practice of undergraduates and asks the question how do learning practices evolve as programmers move from novice to experienced. The subjects of the study are undergraduates who were taught how to program in an introductory programming module in the University of Southampton.

A mixed methodology which combined quantitative and qualitative approaches was adopted, to gather evidence throughout the process as the students learnt to program, focussing on identifying does when learning to program. The findings are based on surveys, interviews and observations that were administered over the duration of a programming course for undergraduates.

This study presents and analyses the findings of an investigation into the attitudes and behaviours of first year undergraduates learning to program in this changed context. It also proposes, a systematic way to gather evidence which can be used to review or change the overall learning design of such teaching. A reusable research framework is presented, which could be applied not only those learning to program but also in broader educational settings.

The study uses a range of measures to determine students’ strategies to cope with course requirements, and their use of adjunct resources are evaluated and documented. The thesis provides evidence which may be especially valuable for academics preparing and revising teaching programmes offering insights into what different types of students actually do when learning to program especially how they integrate and evolve their use of the Web to enhance their learning.

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More information

Published date: February 2016
Organisations: University of Southampton, Web & Internet Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 390079
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/390079
PURE UUID: 4bea682d-d899-4226-9dd3-5b292ddc31bd
ORCID for Susan White: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9588-5275

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 21 Mar 2016 11:33
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:53

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