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J. Shinkai, Y. Hayase, I. Miyaji, C. Moananu

National Institute of Technology, Toyama College (JAPAN)
The programming education in the Department of Information Science and Engineering is an important subject for basic education. The purpose of programming education is to nurture problem-solving abilities through understanding assigned tasks and analyzing them, finding ways to solve them, detailing the relevant steps, and finally building algorithms. However, many students lose enthusiasm for learning after encountering difficulties in the early stages of programming education. Accordingly, to advance students’ logical thinking and improve their ability to create algorithms, the authors concluded that introductory programming education, to provide effective preliminary steps to teaching programming is essential. In this study, the authors propose to facilitate programming and algorithm building by introducing training through writing procedures manuals in clear and concise Japanese language.

The authors conducted an introductory programming education through procedures manual writing in Japanese language for 40 first-year students in the Department of Electronics and Information Science at a Technical College. Five 90-minute-long classes were used and students were tasked with “Teaching elementary school children to perform adding calculations of two-digit figures. Children could choose various cards printed with one-digit figures from zero to nine. They were assumed to know how to add one-digit figures. Under these conditions, students were asked to itemize their procedures to perform the operation”. Students worked in groups of four to write the procedures that could be easily understood, following these three rules: 1. Names were given to places where cards are put, for example “A1” or “A10”. 2. The procedural manual is written line by line, for example, the card chosen is placed on “A1”. 3. No ambiguous statement can be used in the procedures.

In the next phase, the authors showed them a sample of a C program related to the procedure of adding calculations of two-digit figures and asked them to modify their program to complete it, imitating similar processing included in the sample. Each group wrote a C language program according to the procedures they wrote, executed it on a computer and assessed whether they obtained results they intended to get, or not. They were able to write a C language program without any special explanation related to the declaration of a variable, assignment, additive operation, and an if-statement. All groups completed programming during class hours and obtained the results the authors had anticipated.

The authors administered a questionnaire survey to evaluate the completed introductory programming education trial. The students responded on scale of 1 to 5 (5. Positive, 4.Slightly positive, 3.Neither positive nor negative, 2.Slightly negative, 1.Negative). The authors performed t-test to determine whether the results were positive or negative with “3” being the standard basis. Of the 23items, 22items were found to be at a significance level of 1%. These results suggest that students felt the procedures manual writing for introductory programming education was useful in improving their logical thinking ability. Additionally, it suggests that students’ motivation for learning about programming improved. Finally, the creation of the preliminary programming education proved to be effective.