Abstract: There is widespread concern about low pass rates on introductory programming courses. While considerable research has been carried out to elucidate the reasons for this situation, many of the parameters leading to success or failure in the subject remain unknown. This article describes the results of an experiment to test two cognitive characteristics that have been shown to be important in other conceptual areas: working memory space and field dependency. These are related to examination results of around 150 students on an introductory programming course at the University of Glasgow. The results show that whilst working memory space appears to have only a marginal influence on levels of achievement on the course, field dependency is an important factor in determining success. The implications of this on the teaching of the subject are discussed briefly.
PPIG 2004 - 16th Annual Workshop
Aspects of Cognitive Style and Programming