About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3171-3179
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0169

Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain

TEACHING PROGRAMMING 201 WITH VISUAL CODE BLOCKS INSTEAD OF VI, ECLIPSE OR VISUAL STUDIO – EXPERIENCES AND POTENTIAL USE CASES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

N. Kiesler

Fulda University of Applied Sciences (GERMANY)
Students of Computer Science have to meet many demands during their studies. Didactics as the science of teaching aims to help improve students’ motivation, participation and learning outcomes. Problem-based learning, for instance, can help overcome challenging and complex parts of the curriculum. Despite proper methods and commitment, students seem to struggle when it comes to programming. So what does engage university students’ interest when attending programming courses? How can educators enhance students’ learning and understanding of essential programming concepts like recursion? Can a visualisation of source code encourage learning and understanding in higher education?

In 2009, John Hattie presented numerous didactic variables for student performance in his meta-analysis "Visible Learning" [3]. All of them play a decisive role in successful learning scenarios, but the teacher seems to contribute the most to varying learning outcomes. This is one of the reasons why teaching requires a thorough planning and careful consideration with regard to the target audience. Constructive Alignment [1], for instance, can serve as a framework for target group specific teaching. This educational framework constitutes the basis for the presented research on a new methodology and tool for teaching programming skills.

It is the aim of this academic research project to investigate learning processes and motivation of students using visual code blocks for programming. The conducted survey will examine the expected potentials and challenges of visual code blocks in higher education. For this research, a generic visual programming exercise was developed with the aid of the freely available block library Blockly [2]. In the depicted scenario, computer science students can practice with visual building blocks instead of struggling with coding in language-dependent IDEs (integrated development environments). While completing a programming task by putting together blocks, students can generate pseudo code, run their code and immediately view the result in form of a visual execution.

For this paper, an inquiry with a test group of students was conducted. As a first step of this survey students were presented with an introductory video explaining the most important usability aspects of the developed software. Second, students were faced with a specific task. Then, visual code blocks had to be arranged in order to solve the chosen programming task while individual feedback accompanied possible cases of errors. A guided interview completed this survey. First experiences and user tests based on this approach are quite promising with regard to usability, motivation and learning outcome. This research paper summarizes the current findings on potential use cases and provides further considerations. It is part of a running investigation conducting the planning and implementation of a complementary e-learning module for programming courses using visual code blocks. The overall goal of this research is to support the programming training at universities.

References:
[1] Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher Education, 32(3), pp. 347-364.
[2] Google Developers (2015). Blockly. URL: https://developers.google.com/blockly/ (Access: 19th January 2016).
[3] Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Abingdon: Routledge.
@InProceedings{KIESLER2016TEA,
author = {Kiesler, N.},
title = {TEACHING PROGRAMMING 201 WITH VISUAL CODE BLOCKS INSTEAD OF VI, ECLIPSE OR VISUAL STUDIO – EXPERIENCES AND POTENTIAL USE CASES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION},
series = {8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN16 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-8860-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2016.0169},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2016.0169},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {3171-3179}}
TY - CONF
AU - N. Kiesler
TI - TEACHING PROGRAMMING 201 WITH VISUAL CODE BLOCKS INSTEAD OF VI, ECLIPSE OR VISUAL STUDIO – EXPERIENCES AND POTENTIAL USE CASES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
SN - 978-84-608-8860-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0169
PY - 2016
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2016
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN16 Proceedings
SP - 3171
EP - 3179
ER -
N. Kiesler (2016) TEACHING PROGRAMMING 201 WITH VISUAL CODE BLOCKS INSTEAD OF VI, ECLIPSE OR VISUAL STUDIO – EXPERIENCES AND POTENTIAL USE CASES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 3171-3179.
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