Measuring the effects of low assistive vs. moderately assistive environments on novice programmers

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dc.contributor Anderson, Monica D.
dc.contributor Vrbsky, Susan V.
dc.contributor DePasquale, Peter J.
dc.contributor Robinson, Cecil D.
dc.contributor.advisor Brown, Marcus E. Dillon, Edward 2017-03-01T16:34:42Z 2017-03-01T16:34:42Z 2012
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0001037
dc.identifier.other DillonJr_alatus_0004D_11220
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract Improving the novice's experience with programming has been an important research topic for some time. The high attrition rate of CS majors continues to be a problem. Incoming majors are being exposed to programming but many are driven away from the field. As a way to engage novices with programming, many CS departments have adopted visual environments. However, not all novices are taught to program using visual environments. Typically, students are introduced to programming through either a visual or command line environment at the beginning stages of a CS curriculum. The features in standard command line environments are not as assistive to programmers as visual environments. Novices must learn both language syntax and semantics while navigating the file system and compilation tools. On the other hand, visual environments with highly assistive features could constrict a novice to learn a fixed set of foundational programming skills that exclude exposure to syntax checking, compilation and file systems. Novices will eventually need to move to a less assistive environment to round out their skill set. The objective of this research was to determine if certain environments are more appropriate for teaching novices how to program, based on their respective levels of feature assistance. There are anecdotally based motivations for using either tools with low assistive features like command line environments (promotes acquisition of useful mental models) or tools with moderate to high assistive features like visual environments (engages novices while programming). Unfortunately, no systematic study exists that supports either supposition. This research was composed of three studies for evaluating environments with varying feature sets: a high school outreach, a CS1-Laboratory Study, and a CS1-Study. Engagement, comprehension, efficiency, and usability were used as measures to evaluate the environments during these studies. Overall, this research showed that a moderately assistive environment imposes a lower learning curve for novices, while a low assistive environment appears to broaden their understanding of programming.
dc.format.extent 296 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other Computer science
dc.subject.other Educational technology
dc.subject.other Pedagogy
dc.title Measuring the effects of low assistive vs. moderately assistive environments on novice programmers
dc.type thesis
dc.type text University of Alabama. Dept. of Computer Science Computer Science The University of Alabama doctoral Ph.D.

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