Universidade Portucalense (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 309-317
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
One of the first challenges that students have to deal with when starting a degree in the area of Computer Science, Information Technology, etc., is to acquire skills to develop computer programs. In this regard, the course units (UC) Algorithms and Programming, Introduction to Programming, Data Structures, Object Oriented Programming, among others, are required in the first and second year of any of these courses. Within the listed UCs, Algorithms and Programming is the one with a higher level of difficulty due to the need of students, on the one hand, to develop their capacity for abstraction, unknown/little practiced by many of them so far and, furthermore, perceive the notion of algorithm; the algorithms are the essential basis for training in computing courses as previously mentioned.

The algorithms are the basis for the development of programs in any language, it is very difficult, if not impossible, a student to evolve an appropriate manner in UCs that approach the educational programming languages without a good domain of the techniques worked in the algorithms development.

As mentioned, the Algorithms and Programming is known by the difficulties of student learning, and is considered by many authors as co-responsible for high failure and dropout rates in such courses.

In order to improve the results of UC Algorithms and Programming, students need to interact with the learning environment through all sensory directions, i.e., speaking, listening, reading, writing, experience and reflect on their own knowledge when approaching the UC content.

Active learning theories induce teachers and students to actively participate in their learning environment in order to explore, experiment, test and apply the knowledge acquired in the classroom to solve real-life problems, as the main objective of algorithms development.

The main objective of the current research is the proposal of a teaching-learning algorithms methodology oriented student profile, using the VARK questionnaire and the definition of the most appropriate tools and materials according to the student’s profile.

On research carried out has not found any work on the use of VARK questionnaire for profiling, and further development of materials and choice of tools for students attending UC Algorithms and Programming. However, the number of research papers discussing the issue of teaching algorithms is very extensive and covers a lot of areas of intervention.

To understand the proposed methodology were defined two study hypotheses:
(1) Students with a profile obtained by VARK questionnaire might perform better with targeted materials;
(2) building materials according to the profile of the students, according to the questionnaire VARK is possible within a group where the profiles are heterogeneous, or a group whose students have a predominant profile.

The obtaining of results will be based on research technique that uses pre and post-tests used to measure the knowledge acquired by students in a learning activity, consisting of the application of a set of questions that they respond before and after performing a particular activity. The pre-test lets you determine the level of knowledge of participants on an issue that will be approached before training. The post-test consists of applying a set of questions with the same level of difficulty; in order to assess the evolution of skills acquired.
Algorithms, VARK questionnaire, methodology, instructional materials, didactic tools.