the Communications Web site, http://cacm.acm.org,
features more than a dozen bloggers in the BLoG@CACm
community. In each issue of Communications, we’ll publish
excerpts from selected posts.
follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/blogCACm
describes how we work in computing
education pretty well:
"There seem to be two main assumptions underlying instructional
programs using minimal guidance.
First[,] they challenge students to solve
“authentic” problems or acquire complex knowledge in information-rich
settings based on the assumption that
having learners construct their own solutions leads to the most effective learning experience. Second, they appear to
assume that knowledge can best be acquired through experience based on the
procedures of the discipline (i.e., seeing
the pedagogic content of the learning experience as identical to the methods and
processes or epistemology of the discipline being studied; Kirschner, 1992)."
That seems to reflect our practice,
paraphrased as “people should learn
to program by constructing a program
from the basic information on the language, and they should do it in the same
way that experts do it.” The paper then
presents all the evidence showing that
this “minimally-guided instruction”
does not work:
"After a half-century of advocacy associated with instruction using minimal guidance, it appears that there is
no body of research supporting the
technique. In so far as there is any evidence from controlled studies, it almost uniformly supports direct, strong
instructional guidance rather than
constructivist-based minimal guidance
during the instruction of novice to intermediate learners."
There have been rebuttals to this
article. What’s striking about these re-
too much Programming
Mark Guzdial and Judy Robertson discuss the role
of programming in introductory computer science.
from mark Guzdial’s “how We teach Introductory Computer Science is Wrong” http://cacm.acm.org/ blogs/blog-cacm/45725
I’ve been interested in John Sweller and
Cognitive Load Theory since reading Ray
Lister’s 2008 Australasian Computing
Education Conference keynote paper,
“After the Gold Rush: Toward Sustainable Scholarship in Computing.” I assigned several papers on the topic to my
educational technology class. Those papers have been influencing my thinking
about how we teach computing.
In general, we teach computing by
asking students to engage in the activity of professionals in the field: by programming. We lecture to them and have
them study texts, of course, but most
of the learning is expected to occur
through the practice of programming.
We teach programming by having students program.
The original 1985 Sweller and Coo-
per paper on worked examples had five
studies with similar setups. There are
two groups of students, each of which
is shown two worked-out algebra prob-
lems. Our experimental group then
gets eight more algebra problems,
completely worked out. Our control
group solves those eight problems. As
you might imagine, the control group
takes five times as long to complete
the eight problems than the experi-
ment group takes to simply read them.
Both groups then get new problems
to solve. The experimental group solves
the problems in half the time and with
fewer errors than the control group. Not
problem-solving leads to better prob-
lem-solving skills than those doing
problem-solving. That’s when educa-
tional psychologists began to ques-
tion the idea that we should best teach
problem-solving by having students