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Title: Enhancing practice and achievement in introductory programming with a robot olympics
Authors: Scott, MJ
Counsell, S
Lauria, S
Swift, S
Tucker, A
Shepperd, M
Ghinea, G
Keywords: Achievement;CS1;introductory programming;Motivation;Personal robots;Practice;Quality
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: IEEE
Citation: IEEE Transactions on Education, PP(99): (12 January 2015)
Abstract: Computer programming is notoriously difficult to learn. To this end, regular practice in the form of application and reflection is an important enabler of student learning. However, educators often find that first-year B.Sc. students do not readily engage in such activities. Providing each student with a programmable robot, however, could be used to facilitate application and reflection since, potentially, robots facilitate engaging learning experiences while providing immediate and intuitive feedback. This paper explores whether an introductory course centered upon programming personal robots in preparation for an end-of-course event day—a Robot Olympics—can help students to firstly, engage in programming practice more frequently and secondly, improve the quality of their code. A survey was conducted to examine the students’ programming practice behavior and students’ final coursework submissions were also reviewed for aspects of program quality. The findings from this cohort were compared to a reference group from a previous cohort that shared similar learning objectives and entry requirements, but had focused on web programming instead of using robots. The results reveal statistically significant increases in programming practice compared to the reference group. Furthermore, being enrolled on the course that culminated in the Robot Olympics was a significant predictor of two aspects of program quality: functional coherence and sophistication. This suggests that robot-centered courses can promote engagement with, and enhance some aspects of, programming practice.
ISSN: 0018-9359
Appears in Collections:Dept of Computer Science Research Papers

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