ASSISTing CS1 students to learn: learning approaches and object-oriented programming

Hughes, Janet and Peiris, D Ramanee (2006). ASSISTing CS1 students to learn: learning approaches and object-oriented programming. In: ITICSE '06 Proceedings of the 11th annual SIGCSE conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education (Goldweber, M and Salomoni, P eds.), ACM, pp. 275–279.



Identifying and managing students who experience difficulty with learning to program is a challenge for CS educators. In an attempt to answer the familiar question "What makes for success in CS1?" we have investigated student approaches to learning using the ASSIST measure of learning approach. This measure considers three dimensions related to studying - deep (related to meaning), surface (reproducing) and strategic (achieving).Two cohorts of CS1 students completed an online ASSIST questionnaire midway through their first semester. Their three ASSIST scores were analysed together with their CS1 performance. The strongest relationships were a significant, negative correlation between a surface approach to learning and CS1 performance and a significant positive correlation between a strategic approach to learning and CS1 performance. Participants were classified via a cluster analysis according to the extent to which they showed deep, strategic, and surface learning profiles. Members of the cluster favouring a surface approach had the poorest performances, whereas members of the cluster favouring strategic or deep approaches rather than a surface approach had the best performances.

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