PPIG 2014 - 25th Annual Workshop
Cognitive Flexibility and Programming Performance
Marianne Leinikka, Arto Vihavainen, Jani Lukander, Satu Pakarinen
Abstract: Cognitive flexibility is an integral part in adaptive behavior such as learning, and can be seen as one explaining factor in performance in various tasks. In this study, we explore the possibilities of a dynamic psychological test that can be administered online to assess cognitive flexibility and apply the test across a student population that is learning to program. While our results imply that cognitive flexibility has little correlation with the score of a traditional pen-and-paper programming exam as well as the students' average grade from their first semester of studies, cognitive flexibility does play a role in the efficiency with which students solve programming errors. Moreover, our results imply that while cognitive flexibility correlates with the students' efficiency in solving programming errors, the correlation is more evident with novice programmers than with programmers with existing experience.