I. Balasooriya, E. Mor, M.E. Rodríguez, M.A. Huertas

Open University of Catalonia (SPAIN)
Programming education plays a central role in STEM education, particularly in secondary and higher education. Teaching and learning programming from a pedagogical point of view is a highly researched topic and a variety of learning tools are being implemented to assist students who require support in learning the mechanics of programming. A majority of these tools combines pedagogical aspects of learning programming with the typical features of programming environments. However there is a need to explore how these tools and pedagogical requirements superimpose. This paper looks at various strategies and recommendations from the programming education sector and compares different types of programming tools available that adhere to these strategies and classifies the different types of tools under their main focus. The study also aims to generate recommendations based on the observations of tool design that could be highly beneficial to the teachers and the students in programming courses.

By analyzing close to 50 programming tools from the literature that can be classified as programming environments, enhanced programming environments, intelligent tutoring systems and visualization and simulation programs, it can be seen that many of these tools focus on a specific type of learning and that they incorporate some of the learning strategies identified. Educational research emphasize the need of student networking, peer review, example based learning and solution planning approaches to be present in the learning process. Some tools excel in these pedagogically sound features while others are in need of further improvement. This study focuses on examining the linkage between features of programming tools and recommendations for instruction so that novice learners or teachers can make informed decisions about the types of tools they wish to use and how to utilize them in effective ways of learning, leading to better learning outcomes and success rates.