The Role of Explicit Instruction on Students Learning their Second Programming Language

Tshukudu, E. and Jensen, S. A. M. (2020) The Role of Explicit Instruction on Students Learning their Second Programming Language. In: 2020 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research (ICER '20), Dunedin, New Zealand, 11-14 Aug 2020, pp. 10-16. ISBN 9781450370929 (doi: 10.1145/3416465.3416475)

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Students are expected to move from one programming language (PL) to another in their computer science education. Recent work has proposed a model of PL transfer to explain how students transfer conceptual knowledge between languages. This model suggests that during the transition, learners automatically effect a transfer of semantics between languages based on syntax similarities. The semantic transfer can be positive for learning when the syntax and semantics of the new PL are similar to the prior PL (True Carryover Constructs) and becomes negative when the syntax of the prior PL is similar to the new PL but the semantics are different (False Carryover Constructs). To avoid negative semantic transfer during learning, this study aims to investigate the effectiveness of explicit instruction in teaching a second PL by conducting two empirical studies. Study 1 was a within-subject study that investigated undergraduate students transitioning from procedural Python to object-oriented Java. Study 2 was a between-subject study that investigated undergraduate students transitioning from object-oriented Python to object-oriented Java at a different university. The results of both studies show that students benefited significantly more on interventions on the False Carryover Constructs categories than the True Carryover Constructs. These findings can help teachers interpret and improve their own classroom practices when teaching second PLs.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Tshukudu, Ethel
Authors: Tshukudu, E., and Jensen, S. A. M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Journal Name:United Kingdom & Ireland Computing Education Research conference.

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