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Title: An exploration of novice compilation behaviour in BlueJ
Author: Jadud, Matthew C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 3452
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2006
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Our research explores the process by which beginning programmers go about writing programs. We have focused our explorations on what we call compilation behaviour: the programming behaviour a student engages in while repeatedly editing and compiling their programs in an attempt to make them syntactically, if not semantically, correct. The students whose behaviour we have observed were engaged in learning to program in an objects-first style using BlueJ, an environment designed for supporting novice programmers just starting out with the Java programming language. The significant results of our work are two-fold. First, we have developed tools for visualising the process by which students write their programs. Using these tools, we can quickly obtain valuable information about their process, and use that information to inform further research regarding their behaviour, or apply it immediately in a classroom context to better support the struggling learner. Second, we have proposed a quantification of novice compilation behavior which we call the error quotient. Using this metric, we can determine how well (or poorly) a student fares with syntax errors while learning to program. This quantity, like our tools for visualisation, provides a powerful indicator for how much or little a student is struggling with the language while programming, and correlates significantly with traditional indicators for academic progress.
Supervisor: Fincher, Sally Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: QA 76 Software, computer programming