Forming Groups for Collaborative Learning of Introductory Computer Programming Based on Students’ Programming Skills and Learning Styles

Forming Groups for Collaborative Learning of Introductory Computer Programming Based on Students’ Programming Skills and Learning Styles

Juan Manuel Adán-Coello (Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas, Brazil), Carlos Miguel Tobar (Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas, Brazil), Eustáquio São José de Faria (Federal University of Uberlândia, Brazil), Wiris Serafim de Menezes (Secretariat of Finance of the State of Goiás, Brazil) and Ricardo Luís de Freitas (Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/jicte.2011100104
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Abstract

Collaborative learning is pointed out as an effective approach to reduce apprentices’ difficulties that arise during the effort to learn computer programming. In a collaborative learning process, the formation of groups is a fundamental activity and one of the most complex, because grouping students randomly is ineffective in obtaining real collaboration. PQAS and GroupOrganizer were developed to address the lack of tools that support group formation in the context of collaborative learning of computer programming. These tools form groups based on the theories of socio-cognitive conflict and learning styles. In order to stimulate the social-cognitive conflict, PQAS groups students with significant differences in programming style. GroupOrganizer extends PQAS and forms groups also considering students’ learning styles. Two experiments involving students taking introductory programming courses provide evidences that the adopted approaches contribute to increase students’ learning both in terms of programming style and workgroup skills.
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Learning Styles

Since the 60s, studies have been conducted to find out how information is identified and processed by human beings and how this process influences interpersonal relationships. During the last 15 years, these studies were increasingly considered by researchers involved in educational practices. These researchers usually understand learning styles as individual preferences among alternative ways of perceiving and processing information.

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