Exploratory study of novice programming experiences and errors




Thompson, Suzanne Marie

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Learning how to program is a difficult task: students must learn programming concepts, a language's syntax, and a software environment that will assist their programming activities. In this work we attempt to learn more about novice programming errors so that we can provide better tool support and information for instructors. We discuss our study where, with a software monitor, we tracked students' errors and their usage of the Gild integrated development environment. Based on our log file data, we describe student interactions with Gild: their first use, the features they use, and how they used them. It was found that a small number of error types accounted for the majority of errors made. Although feed-back to Gild's extra error help feature was largely positive, improvements to this feature are required as it was found that the errors that students take the longest to fix are also less frequently made.



computer programming, study and teaching, higher education, British Columbia