Some empirical results for neo-Piagetian reasoning in novice programmers and the relationship to code explanation questions

Malcolm Corney, Donna Teague, Alireza Ahadi, Raymond Lister

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent research on novice programmers has suggested that they pass through neo-Piagetian stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, and concrete operational stages, before eventually reaching programming competence at the formal operational stage. This paper presents empirical results in support of this neo-Piagetian perspective. The major novel contributions of this paper are empirical results for some exam questions aimed at testing novices for the concrete operational abilities to reason with quantities that are conserved, processes that are reversible, and properties that hold under transitive inference. While the questions we used had been proposed earlier by Lister, he did not present any data for how students performed on these questions. Our empirical results demonstrate that many students struggle to answer these problems, despite the apparent simplicity of these problems. We then compare student performance on these questions with their performance on six explain in plain English questions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationACE '12
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Fourteenth Australasian Computing Education
EditorsMichael de Raadt, Angela Carbone
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherAustralian Computer Society
Pages77-86
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781921770043
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event14th Australasian Computing Education Conference, ACE 2012 - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 31 Jan 20123 Feb 2012

Publication series

NameConferences in research and practice in information technology
Volume123
ISSN (Electronic)1445-1336

Conference

Conference14th Australasian Computing Education Conference, ACE 2012
CountryAustralia
CityMelbourne
Period31/01/123/02/12

Keywords

  • novice programmer
  • CS1
  • neo-Piagetian

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  • Cite this

    Corney, M., Teague, D., Ahadi, A., & Lister, R. (2012). Some empirical results for neo-Piagetian reasoning in novice programmers and the relationship to code explanation questions. In M. de Raadt, & A. Carbone (Eds.), ACE '12: Proceedings of the Fourteenth Australasian Computing Education (pp. 77-86). (Conferences in research and practice in information technology; Vol. 123). Sydney: Australian Computer Society.