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Title: Enhancing Practice and Achievement in Introductory Programming With a Robot Olympics
Authors: Scott, MJ
Counsell, S
Lauria, S
Swift, S
Tucker, A
Shepperd, M
Ghinea, G
Keywords: Terms—Personal Robots;CS1;Introductory Programming;Achievement;Practice;Motivation;Quality
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: IEEE
Citation: IEEE Transactions on Education, 58 (4): pp. 249 - 254, (2015)
Abstract: Computer programming is notoriously difficult to learn. To this end, regular practice in the form of application and reflection is an important enabler of student learning. However, educators often find that first-year B.Sc. students do not readily engage in such activities. Providing each student with a programmable robot, however, could be used to facilitate application and reflection since, potentially, robots facilitate engaging learning experiences whilst providing immediate and intuitive feedback. This paper explores whether an introductory course centred upon programming personal robots in preparation for an end-of-course event day—a Robot Olympics—can help students to firstly, engage in programming practice more frequently and secondly, improve the quality of their code. A survey was conducted to examine the students’ programming practice behaviour and students’ final coursework submissions were also reviewed for aspects of program quality. The findings from this cohort were compared to a reference-group from a previous cohort that shared similar learning objectives and entry requirements, yet had focused on web programming as opposed to using robots. The results reveal statistically significant increases in programming practice compared to the reference-group. Furthermore, being enrolled on the course culminating in the Robot Olympics was a significant predictor of two aspects of program quality: functional coherence and sophistication. This suggests that robot-centred courses can promote engagement with, and enhance some aspects of, programming practice.
ISSN: 0018-9359
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