Can distributed practice improve students' efficacy in learning their first programming language?

Qiujie Zhang, Lishan Zhang, Baoping Li, Ling Chen, Ihan Hsiao, Fati Wu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Learning how to program has become required for many majors in higher education. However, programming is not easily learned, especially for non-engineering students. To improve students' learning efficiency, we applied distributed practice to a C programming class with 69 college students in first grade, but have students decide the space of practice by themselves. By mining the relationships between practice patterns and learning performance, we found that students who practiced with high frequency significantly outperformed those who practiced infrequently. The frequency of practice was a strong predictor of both homework grades (p=0.001) and midterm exam grades (p=0.023). By contrast, the total amount of practice had very little effect on learning performance. The result shows that distributed practice is a better learning strategy than massed practice in C programming language learning. But the optimized space of practice in this domain has not been completely revealed yet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 25th International Conference on Computers in Education, ICCE 2017 - Main Conference Proceedings
EditorsAhmad Fauzi Mohd Ayub, Antonija Mitrovic, Jie-Chi Yang, Su Luan Wong, Wenli Chen
PublisherAsia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education
Pages427-432
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9789869401265
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Event25th International Conference on Computers in Education, ICCE 2017 - Christchurch, New Zealand
Duration: Dec 4 2017Dec 8 2017

Other

Other25th International Conference on Computers in Education, ICCE 2017
CountryNew Zealand
CityChristchurch
Period12/4/1712/8/17

Keywords

  • Distributed practice
  • Higher education
  • Massed practice
  • Programming language learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Education

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  • Cite this

    Zhang, Q., Zhang, L., Li, B., Chen, L., Hsiao, I., & Wu, F. (2017). Can distributed practice improve students' efficacy in learning their first programming language? In A. F. Mohd Ayub, A. Mitrovic, J-C. Yang, S. L. Wong, & W. Chen (Eds.), Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Computers in Education, ICCE 2017 - Main Conference Proceedings (pp. 427-432). Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education.