Computer Science Education Research: An Overview and Some Proposals

Computer Science Education Research: An Overview and Some Proposals

Anabela de Jesus Gomes (Coimbra Institute of Engineering, Portugal & University of Coimbra, Portugal), António José Mendes (University of Coimbra, Portugal) and Maria José Marcelino (University of Coimbra, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7304-5.ch001
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This chapter aims to present and summarize a variety of research areas that directly or indirectly have influenced Computer Science Education Research, particularly associated to the teaching and learning of programming. It is known that many students encounter a lot of difficulties in introductory programming courses. Possible reasons for these difficulties are discussed and some existing proposals in the literature are presented. Based on this discussion, the chapter also includes a description of work done at the University of Coimbra, trying to define more adequate pedagogical strategies for introductory programming courses. The results obtained and their implementation in a common undergraduate course are presented and discussed. The authors conclude that this new strategy makes learning more stimulating for the students, minimizes dropout intentions, and makes the students learn more and better. The chapter ends with suggestions of future research opportunities within the topic of teaching and learning of programming.
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Background On Computer Science Education Research Areas

Research in education (teaching and learning) in computer science now covers a wide variety of topics. In order to explore issues related to the teaching and learning of programming, we must first situate them in the broader Computer Science Education Research area. We start with an overview of related research, structured according to the main research subfields defined in the book Computer Science Education Research, edited by Sally Fincher and Marian Petre (2004). In this book, the authors identified several major areas concerning education in computer science. Although the areas are not disjointed, this classification can be a useful tool for a better positioning when investigating a topic related to the teaching/learning of computer science. The mentioned areas are: Student Understanding; Animation, visualization and simulation; Teaching methods; Assessment; Educational Technology; Transferring professional practice into the classroom; Transferring from presence education to distance education; Recruitment and retention; Construction of the discipline.

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