Enhancing Practice and Achievement in Introductory Programming With a Robot Olympics

Scott, Michael and Counsell, Steve and Stanislao, Lauria and Swift, Stephen and Tucker, Allan and Shepperd, Martin and Ghinea, Gheorghita (2015) Enhancing Practice and Achievement in Introductory Programming With a Robot Olympics. IEEE Transactions on Education, 58 (4). pp. 249-254. ISSN 0018-9359

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Abstract / Summary

Computer programming is notoriously difficult to learn. To this end, regular practice in the form of application and reflection is an important enabler of student learning. However, educators often find that first-year B.Sc. students do not readily engage in such activities. Providing each student with a programmable robot, however, could be used to facilitate application and reflection since, potentially, robots facilitate engaging learning experiences whilst providing immediate and intuitive feedback. This paper explores whether an introductory course centered upon programming personal robots in preparation for an end-of-course event day—a Robot Olympics—can help students to firstly, engage in programming practice more frequently and secondly, improve the quality of their code. A survey was conducted to examine the students’ programming practice behavior and students’ final coursework submissions were also reviewed for aspects of program quality. The findings from this cohort were compared to a reference-group from a previous cohort that shared similar learning objectives and entry requirements, yet had focused on web programming as opposed to using robots. The results reveal statistically significant increases in programming practice compared to the reference-group. Furthermore, being enrolled on the course culminating in the Robot Olympics was a significant predictor of two aspects of program quality: functional coherence and sophistication. This suggests that robot-centered courses can promote engagement with, and enhance some aspects of, programming practice.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1109/TE.2014.2382567
ISSN: 0018-9359
Subjects: Computer Science, Information & General Works
Education
Courses by Department: The School of Film & Television > Games and Animation
Depositing User: Michael Scott
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2015 14:52
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2016 16:23
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/1635

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