ERIC Number: EJ977695
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Abstractor: As Provided
How Does Early Feedback in an Online Programming Course Change Problem Solving?
Journal of Educational Technology Systems, v40 n4 p371-379 2011-2012
How does early feedback change the programming problem solving in an online environment and help students choose correct approaches? This study was conducted in a sample of students learning programming in an online course entitled Introduction to C++ and OOP (Object Oriented Programming) using the ANGEL learning management system platform. My overall observations on teaching online introductory programming courses for 7 years (2005-2012) convinced me that online students try various ways to solve a problem. I found that some of the students' problem solving approaches generated the correct output but are not straightforward and thus difficult to understand. However, some of the solutions were innovative, challenging, and unique but gave an early impression that they were wrong (before a little investigation). The students apparently used trial-and-error in conjunction with their own logic to get to the correct output. The lack of communication and weak dissemination of information between instructor and students have caused a major problem in selecting a right problem solving approach. In this study, three problem sets are taken from the course text and are discussed in module 1 and module 2 of the term. The problems were to compute the salary of an employee with a given input such as number of hours worked and the hourly rate. In order to learn progressively, students were asked to program an employee's gross pay, net pay with a fixed tax rate, net pay with a variable tax rate, marital status, and overtime pay. The course communication was mainly through discussion boards between students and instructor, e-mails, instructor announcements, and the area where the assignment was to be submitted. In addition, students could call the instructor's cell phone to seek assistance in clarifying programming problems. The present study will show the effectiveness of early feedback in helping students to develop the right programs. Early and consistent feedback to students increases the awareness of potential errors and avoidance of having students choose a wrong path. However, there was an undesirable side effect in giving early feedback which resulted in limiting possible student-innovation. Early feedback seems to have inhibited the creativity of innovative students and thus to have skewed such students radically toward the classroom main stream.
Descriptors: Programming, Computer Science Education, Online Courses, Computer Mediated Communication, Instructional Effectiveness, Feedback (Response), Problem Solving, Problem Sets, Teaching Methods, Introductory Courses, Problems, Teacher Student Relationship, Assignments, Integrated Learning Systems, Distance Education, Electronic Learning, Instructional Design, Course Descriptions, College Students, College Faculty
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York