About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4259-4265
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain

ALGORITHM FIRST, SYNTAX LATER APPROACH FOR TEACHING PROGRAMMING TO NOVICES IN TANZANIAN UNIVERSITIES: A CASE OF TUMAINI UNIVERSITY

J. Oroma, T. Wikedzi, F. Ngumbuke, H. Wanga

Tumaini University (TANZANIA)
Computer programming is a difficult course to teach and learn. It is even more difficult to learners in developing countries that have additional factors of hindrance acting within the academic, socio-economic and natural environments as well as cultural aspects that make teaching and learning of these western-introduced courses more challenging. Issues within the academic environment were identified to include; poor pedagogical methods, inadequate learning styles, inadequate books, learners educational background, unguaranteed access to facilities, university traditions and the socio-economic environment presents issues such as poor living conditions, low income, poverty, in ability to acquire computers for personal use while the natural environment brings forth issues regarding unstable and unreliable electricity which is a threat to the information and communication technologies (ICT) equipment and computer viruses. These difficulties in learning computer programming are most remarkably reflected in the poor performance and high failure rates. Several approaches and pedagogical innovations have been implemented, but the outcome is still not near satisfactory. Previous study indicates that much of the difficulties are due to the fact that our students severely lack generic skills required to learn programming; such as problem solving, and analysis, and again more time is often spent on teaching the syntax to the students instead of teaching problem solving skills together with the fundamental concepts of programming, the students struggle to understand the syntax and when they fail (as often they do), they give up and attribute their failure to the difficulty of the course.
This study therefore focuses on exploring the role of algorithms (problem solving) while teaching programming to students who do not have prior computer knowledge in a preparatory programming course. This approach emphasizes the program development life cycle as a means to understand programming in a series of steps to solve a problem without being strict about syntax in the beginning.

The results indicate that the students were more motivated and spent less time in finding solutions to programming problems. It was also identified that they understood more quickly and were more confident and active in the learning process.
In conclusion therefore, the researcher says that computer programming is not as difficult as it appears to be; as long as conditions such as, pedagogical methods that imparts necessary skills (such as problem solving and analytical skills), learning styles that promote deep understanding of concepts, and access to facilities and learning resources are improved, then students will be motivated to study programming and this motivation is expected to positively impact on their performance in the course. Using our approach of algorithms first, syntax later to teach a preparatory programming course to students who had no prior computer experience has proved effective and it was reflected in the results of both the mid-term test and assignment as well. And in the final end of semester examination, the grades were much higher compared to their predecessors.
@InProceedings{OROMA2012ALG,
author = {Oroma, J. and Wikedzi, T. and Ngumbuke, F. and Wanga, H.},
title = {ALGORITHM FIRST, SYNTAX LATER APPROACH FOR TEACHING PROGRAMMING TO NOVICES IN TANZANIAN UNIVERSITIES: A CASE OF TUMAINI UNIVERSITY},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {4259-4265}}
TY - CONF
AU - J. Oroma AU - T. Wikedzi AU - F. Ngumbuke AU - H. Wanga
TI - ALGORITHM FIRST, SYNTAX LATER APPROACH FOR TEACHING PROGRAMMING TO NOVICES IN TANZANIAN UNIVERSITIES: A CASE OF TUMAINI UNIVERSITY
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 4259
EP - 4265
ER -
J. Oroma, T. Wikedzi, F. Ngumbuke, H. Wanga (2012) ALGORITHM FIRST, SYNTAX LATER APPROACH FOR TEACHING PROGRAMMING TO NOVICES IN TANZANIAN UNIVERSITIES: A CASE OF TUMAINI UNIVERSITY, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 4259-4265.
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