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A Software Tool to Visualize Verbal Protocols to Enhance Strategic and Metacognitive Abilities in Basic Programming

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Author(s): Carlos A. Arévalo | Estela L. Muñoz | Juan M. Gómez

Journal: International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM)
ISSN 1865-7923

Volume: 5;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 12;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: basic | programming | verbal | protocols | dual | coding | e-learning

ABSTRACT
Learning to program is difficult for many first year undergraduate students. Instructional strategies of traditional programming courses tend to focus on syntactic issues and assigning practice exercises using the presentation-examples-practice formula and by showing the verbal and visual explanation of a teacher during the “step by step” process of writing a computer program. Cognitive literature regarding the mental processes involved in programming suggests that the explicit teaching of certain aspects such as mental models, strategic knowledge and metacognitive abilities, are critical issues of how to write and assemble the pieces of a computer program. Verbal protocols are often used in software engineering as a technique to record the short term cognitive process of a user or expert in evaluation or problem solving scenarios. We argue that verbal protocols can be used as a mechanism to explicitly show the strategic and metacognitive process of an instructor when writing a program. In this paper we present an Information System Prototype developed to store and visualize worked examples derived from transcribed verbal protocols during the process of writing introductory level programs. Empirical data comparing the grades obtained by two groups of novice programming students, using ANOVA, indicates a statistically positive difference in performance in the group using the tool, even though these results still cannot be extrapolated to general population, given the reported limitations of this study.

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