For me, programming is ..
Zu finden in: ICER 2009 (Seite 105 bis 116), 2009
Fun, interesting, hard, rewarding, and challenging: these are the most frequent responses of 697 students from five institutions at the end of a first programming course. Student experience with introductory programming courses is of interest to the computing education community, especially due to continued decreases in enrollments in computing degree programs. In this study, we explore one direct approach to document students' initial attitudinal experiences with programming by asking them to complete an open-ended question at the end of a first programming course. Based on content-analysis of students' responses, we find that nearly 50% of responses were positive in nature, there is significant difference in the responses of majors and non-majors, and that response characteristics correlate to earned grade in the course. We present preliminary, but inconclusive evidence on the impact of context (e.g., gaming or media computation) in a first programming course. Finally, we propose a multiple-choice question based on the most common student responses for large-scale deployment in computing courses and identify key contextual information that will inform future analysis of that data.
The most common response indicated that many students believe that programming is fun or cool. Many students also describe programming as interesting or rewarding. But, the students also indicate that they think that learning to program is difficult or frustrating.
As noted above, in two of the courses we observed lower positive response rates. These courses were taught using media computation or gaming-focused approaches, which might lead us to conclude that these approaches are not effective. However, one of the other courses was also taught using the media computation approach, and the positive response rate in this course did not differ from that seen in the courses that were taught using traditional approaches. These results suggest that in some situations students may not find contextualized approaches to teaching programming as compelling as we might have hoped.
We also found significant differences in the response distributions between majors and non-majors. Non-majors tended to provide fewer positive and more negative comments than majors. They were less likely to view programming as fun or cool, but more likely to see it as something that was useful or interesting. They were also more likely to view it as a miserable or pointless activity, even though they did not indicate that it was hard or difficult as frequently as majors did. The media computation approach course with lower positive response rates was also comprised solely of non-majors.
Based on these findings, we have proposed and piloted a multiple-choice question that can be used to assess students’ affective beliefs about programming. We hope that the wide-scale use of this question in computer science education research will lead to better evaluation of the impact of proposed pedagogical interventions on students’ attitudes and beliefs about programming.
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