About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2551-2560
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain


A. Gomes, F. Brito Correia

Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra/Coimbra Institute of Engineering (PORTUGAL)
Results in programming courses are often very disappointing mainly when the teachers invest a lot in the success of the students. There could be a variety of reasons in the origin of this problem. Several authors point out different problems, such as programming being naturally difficult, the lack of preparation of students, mainly regarding mathematical skills and lack of abstraction competences, the incorrect study and teaching methods applied to this type of subject, the usage of too complex development environments to meet the pretended needs, among others. In general we agree that all these factors can contribute to students failure. Several efforts have been made throughout the world, like the development of tools to assist the teaching/learning of initial programming. Although there are reports of some positive results, with the use of some of these tools there are no positive and generalised results if one in particular is chosen. So we made an experiment in one particular programming subject of a certain degree of our institution. Teachers designed a strategy that holds an extra workload for them but it was considered to have benefits on students directing them in devoting themselves to more continuous study and study time towards this course. This strategy mainly included specific additional tests corresponding to intermediate and fundamental topics considered relevant for a gradual understanding of the next following topics. We believe that programming is an activity that requires an approach very different from the majority of other subjects requiring practice, time and persistence until its complete mastering. The used approach was a way to direct students in devoting themselves to more continuous study and study time towards the course. Even though we used several approaches to motivate and encourage students to participate as much as possible and expose their doubts, we consider the type of assessment approach used to evaluate students as the first step to contribute to solve the problem. But we didn’t increase the number of assessments just to make the students study more. We were also interested in the type of difficulties experienced by students in these different assessments. So special care was put in the type of assessments. We were particularly interested on the students that revealed more difficulties. However the number of students per class prevented an effective individualised and permanent student monitoring during class. As we wanted to be as attentive as possible to students that could be future failure cases we used a tool (questionnaire) that would allow us to eventually pay more attention to these students. We used a survey, described in the paper, which according to their authors allows the prediction of future failure cases in programming.

With this paper we present the application of a different methodology in an initial programming course that achieved some positive results. Through an approach that required students to do more frequent evaluations, each one carefully thought and designed, it was possible that students devoted more attention to the programming course in a more continuous way and also allowed to better detect students’ difficulties. Analysing these results, we think it is possible to lead students to obtain the skills required in an initial programming course.
author = {Gomes, A. and Brito Correia, F.},
series = {7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2014 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-2484-0},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {17-19 November, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {2551-2560}}
AU - A. Gomes AU - F. Brito Correia
SN - 978-84-617-2484-0/2340-1095
PY - 2014
Y1 - 17-19 November, 2014
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2014 Proceedings
SP - 2551
EP - 2560
ER -
A. Gomes, F. Brito Correia (2014) PROGRAMMING EDUCATION STRATEGIES, ICERI2014 Proceedings, pp. 2551-2560.