Cognitive Modelling for Psychology Students: The Evaluation of a Pragmatic Approach to Computer Programming for Non Programmers

Collins, Trevor and Fung, Pat (2000). Cognitive Modelling for Psychology Students: The Evaluation of a Pragmatic Approach to Computer Programming for Non Programmers. In: Cummings, Geoff; Okamoto, Toshio and Gomez, Louis eds. Advanced research in computers and communications in education: new human abilities for the networked society. Frontiers in Artifical Intelligence and Applications, 1 (55). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: IOS Press, pp. 216–223.

URL: http://www.iospress.nl/

Abstract

Cognitive modelling is a common component of undergraduate psychology degree courses. However, the problem with cognitive modelling is that students must first learn how to program a computer before they are able to practice cognitive modelling and thereby, appreciate for themselves the contribution cognitive modelling makes to psychology. Learning to program a computer is a non-trivial task, particularly for people from non-technical backgrounds. Overcoming the steep learning curve associated with learning traditional programming languages, such as Prolog or Lisp, is a difficult problem currently facing psychology education. """"Hank"""" is a visual programming language that has been proposed as a solution to the programming overhead associated with teaching cognitive modelling. This paper discusses a programming walkthrough evaluation of the supporting material and modelling exercises used by The Open University for teaching cognitive modelling with Hank. This work is part of an ongoing evaluation project of Hank involving further theoretical and empirical studies. The key issues raised in this paper are: the consistent use of appropriate terminology, and the sufficiency, level and pace of the explanations provided.

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