PPIG 2003 - 15th Annual Workshop
A Developmental Study of Cognitive Problems in Learning to Program.
Richard Tucker
Abstract: Much of the research into the difficulties associated with learning to program has dealt with the differences in knowledge and behaviour between experts and novices; intermediate levels of competence have often been ignored. This paper describes an ongoing study into the problems faced by a group of students undertaking a year-long programming course. The study aims to investigate the cognitive difficulties which underlie those problems and to see how they change as the course progresses. The rationale behind the approach taken to the teaching is discussed, the key aspect being to make allowance for each student's individuality of understanding. The initial findings which are presented suggest that the problems faced by students can be easily misinterpreted. The students may not have learnt what the lecturer thought they were teaching, accounting for why so many students are still unable to program at the end of the course.