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Investigating the Use of Paired Programming for Teaching Data Structures and Algorithms

Maguire, Phil, Maguire, Rebecca and Marshall, Patrick (2011) Investigating the Use of Paired Programming for Teaching Data Structures and Algorithms. In: Proceedings of AISHE-C 2011: The Challenge for Graduates in a Changed World. AISHE.

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Incoming university students who have not previously studied computer programming often find it a challenging subject, leading to high failure rates (Williams & Upchurch, 2001). As a result, enrolment in computer science courses is declining (Carver et al., 2007), with the participation of female students being particularly affected (Werner, Hanks & McDowell, 2004). Research has suggested that the lack of a formalized structure for collaborative learning may be one of the factors responsible for students’ negative impressions of computer science (Werner et al., 2004). In this study we investigated whether the use of pair programming in labs would facilitate peer learning and enhance students’ confidence in their programming ability. The hypothesis motivating this intervention was that the more experienced programmers would transmit some of their knowledge to the weaker students and that the class as a whole would benefit from having the support of a partner to identify problem solving strategies and to resolve coding bugs. Results showed that the intervention was generally well received, although the weaker programmers were more positive about it than the stronger ones. Students that reported learning from pair programming were less likely to enjoy programming (r = -.496), less likely to enjoy labs (r = -.502), more likely to struggle with understanding lab material (r = .561) and more likely to report a lack of confidence in programming (r = -.415). Although there was no significant increase in final exam grades for male students, there was a significant 9.7% increase for female students. The most frequently reported positive feature of pair programming was that it allowed students to meet more people in the class.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > T Technology (General) > Information Technology > Electronic computers. Computer science
L Education > Group work in education
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 14 May 2014 10:17
Last Modified: 14 May 2014 10:18

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