The Impact of a 3D Visual Programming Tool on Students' Performance and Attitude in Computer Programming: A Case Study in Jordan

The Impact of a 3D Visual Programming Tool on Students' Performance and Attitude in Computer Programming: A Case Study in Jordan

Khalid Al-Tahat (Arab Open University, Amman, Jordan)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/JCIT.2019010104

Abstract

Learning programming can be challenging, particularly object-oriented programming (OOP). However, using visualization could be useful in enhancing students' learning OOP concepts. In this study, the impact of using a 3D visual programming tool – Alice 2 – on student performance and attitude was explored in an introductory computer programming course using Java. Research participants were undergraduate computing students at Arab Open University – Jordan branch. Quasi-experimental design was adopted in this research, where two groups of students were chosen. The findings of this research showed that using Alice has positively impacted on students' performance and attitude towards computer programming and learning OOP concepts. The study suggests the incorporation of Alice in teaching introductory programming courses.
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Setting The Stage

Computer programming is often presented to students as an abstract discipline that looks uninspiring (Kelleher, Pausch, & Kiesler, 2007) and socially isolating (Kelleher, & Pausch, 2005). The use of mathematics-based material in teaching computer programming makes it hard for students to learn programming (Kelleher, & Pausch, 2005) and pushes them to lose interest in learning programming (Nakashima, Matsuyama, & Ishii, 2007) and lose confidence in learning programming (Daly, 2011). The percentage of university freshman listing computer science as a probable major is massively declining (Skyes, 2007). In fact, an introductory programming course should build a good understanding of basic programming principles, attract students towards computer programming, and create a good impression of programming to encourage them to major in computing.

Computer science educators are aware of students’ low tendency towards programming and have already explored various tools, techniques and methods to motivate students to learn programming and to make computing appealing and accessible to more students (Kelleher, & Pausch, . 2005).

One of the most common approaches was the use of visual 3D environments (Maloney, Mitchel, Rusk, Silverman, & Eastmond, 2010; Kölling, 2009; Cooper, Wanda, & Pausch, 2000; Chang, 2014; Yang et al., 2015; Chao, 2016). Alice, a 3D visual programming environment, has been used to innovatively teach the most challenging topics in computer programming and for learning OOP concepts. It has been used as one of the preferred programming environments at both high school level (Huang, Yang, & Cheng, 2013) and at university level (Cooper, Dann, & Pausch, 2003; Ma, Teng, Du, & Zhang., 2014). Actually, computer science educators (Bishop-Clark, Courte, & Howard, 2006; Al-Tahat, 2010; Cooper et al., 2003) have reported the benefits of using Alice as an object-first tool and its positive impact on both students’ confidence and in their programming ability and understanding of basic programming concepts.

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