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ERIC Number: EJ880042
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Pages: 35
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 104
ISSN: ISSN-0899-3408
Learning Edge Momentum: A New Account of Outcomes in CS1
Robins, Anthony
Computer Science Education, v20 n1 p37-71 Mar 2010
Compared to other subjects, the typical introductory programming (CS1) course has higher than usual rates of both failing and high grades, creating a characteristic bimodal grade distribution. In this article, I explore two possible explanations. The conventional explanation has been that learners naturally fall into populations of programmers and non-programmers. A review of decades of research, however, finds little or no evidence to support this account. I propose an alternative explanation, the learning edge momentum (LEM) effect. This hypothesis is introduced by way of a simulated model of grade distributions, and then grounded in the psychological and educational literature. LEM operates such that success in acquiring one concept makes learning other closely linked concepts easier (whereas failure makes it harder). This interaction between the way that people learn and the tightly integrated nature of the concepts comprising a programming language creates an inherent structural bias in CS1, which drives students towards extreme outcomes. (Contains 5 figures and 6 notes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Zealand