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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Instructional methods for novice programmers Clarke, Anthony


Computer programming is a relatively new phenomenon. Instructional methods in response to this new pedagogy have been many and varied. In the critical interplay between teacher and learner, the learners' perception of the instructional environment is perhaps one of the most important yet least understood variables. Little research has been devoted to understanding the learners' perceptions of the different instructional methods advocated. This study provides an insight into the students' perceptions of two instructional methods, and thus extends the knowledge base for decision making about learning environments for novice programmers. An introductory computer programming class of sixteen university students was divided into two groups, one to experience the Lecture-lab approach (teacher centred) and the other the Guided Self-discovery approach (student centred). To ensure an even balance of abilities between the two groups, student allocation was based on a test of programming ability and a test of field independence. During the study students completed two attitude questionnaires, three tests of programming ability and a log sheet for every class. At the conclusion of the experimentation period, eight of the sixteen students were interviewed. The results of the statistical (Pearson's correlation coefficient, t-tests) and interview analysis indicated that novice programmers prefer an instructional framework based on: a teaching style that allows active student participation and substantial student-teacher interactions, a learning environment that allows student exploration and substantial student-student interactions, and resource materials that include regular work sheet.

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