Picture of person typing on laptop with programming code visible on the laptop screen

World class computing and information science research at Strathclyde...

The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde's Open Access research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including by researchers from the Department of Computer & Information Sciences involved in mathematically structured programming, similarity and metric search, computer security, software systems, combinatronics and digital health.

The Department also includes the iSchool Research Group, which performs leading research into socio-technical phenomena and topics such as information retrieval and information seeking behaviour.

Explore

Using cognitive conflict and visualisation to improve mental models held by novice programmers

Ma, L. and Ferguson, J. D. and Roper, M. and Ross, I. and Wood, M. (2008) Using cognitive conflict and visualisation to improve mental models held by novice programmers. In: Proceedings of the 39th ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education. ACM, pp. 342-346. ISBN 978-1-59593-799-5

Full text not available in this repository. Request a copy from the Strathclyde author

Abstract

Recent research has found that many novice programmers often hold non-viable mental models of basic programming concepts such as assignment and object reference, which can limit their potential to develop programming skills. This paper proposes a constructivist-based teaching model that integrates cognitive conflict and program visualisation with the aim of supporting novice programmers in the formulation of appropriate mental models. The results of an initial empirical study produced three findings of note. Firstly, a teaching model based on either visualisation alone or cognitive conflict integrated with visualisation can help students develop viable models of value assignment. Secondly, there was evidence to suggest that cognitive conflict integrated with visualisation outperformed visualisation alone in helping students develop viable models of the more challenging concept of object reference assignment. And thirdly, there was evidence of an improvement in students' understanding of value and object reference assignment using the teaching model based on visualisation and cognitive conflict.