PPIG 2010 - 22nd Annual Workshop
Teaching Novice Programmers Programming Wisdom
Randy M. Kaplan
Abstract: Teaching students how to write computer programs has remained a challenge. Whether a student is new to programming or has some experience they often have not had enough to develop strategies for solving problems in a computer programming setting. It is akin to being in a rowboat without any oars. Yes, you can get there; it will just take a long time.
There has been a great deal of research over the years into the psychological and cognitive aspects of programming. The reality is that much of this research has not informed our teaching and we are still teaching programming as we did many years ago. Although the academic community may take offense at this statement looking at the way programming is taught today and applying the relevant research to the process can justify it. Without going through that process, it remains easy to see. Programming is largely taught today the way it was taught 60 years ago.
Although this paper is entitled “Teaching Novice Programmers Programming Wisdom,” the wisdom referred to are encapsulations of some of the meta-skills that are needed to successfully write computer programs. The list is not meant to be in anyway comprehensive, complete, or all encompassing. It is a list used with some success in entry level programming courses. The purpose of writing and presenting the idea of wisdom for programming is to allow the computer science/education/psychology communities to comment on this wisdom and possibly offer other “nuggets” and approaches that might be employed during novice programming instruction.