Friday, July 30, 2010

This literature is not saying never program. Rather, it's a bad way to start.

This literature is not saying never program.  Rather, it's a bad way to start. Students need the opportunity to gain knowledge first, before programming, just as with reading External Link.  Later, there is a expertise reversal effect, where the worked example effect disappears then reverses.  Intermediate students do learn better with real programming, real problem-solving.  There is a place for minimally guided student activity, including programming.  It's just not at the beginning.

Overall, I find this literature unintuitive.  It seems obvious to me that the way to learn to program is by programming.  It seems obvious to me that real programming can be motivating.  But KSC respond to this, too.

Why do outstanding scientists who demand rigorous proof for scientific assertions in their research continue to use and, indeed defend on the bias of intuition alone, teaching methods that are not the most effective?

This literature doesn't offer a lot of obvious answers for how to do computing education better.  It does, however, provide strong evidence that what we're doing wrong, and offers pointers to how other disciplines have done it better.  It's a challenge to us to question our practice.

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