June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
NSF Grantees Poster Session
26.228.1 - 26.228.6
Applying Second Language Acquisition to Facilitate a Blended Learning of Programming LanguagesComputer programing is a common mandatory course taught in the first year of engineering andcomputer science programs. These types of courses typically utilize a common programminglanguage (MATLAB, C, Java) to teach students about syntax, programming techniques, andintroduce students to applied problem solving. Learning a computer programing language hasbeen known to be difficult for high-school and university students because of the lack of time forpractice, in addition to the conceptual complexity and logical reasoning processes. Programmingcourses are critical to the learning needs of students in STEM majors as they provide studentswith problem solving skills that are easily transferrable and contextually relevant to math andscience courses in the curriculum. A student who is better prepared to understand and solveproblems, regardless of the context, will be better prepared to persist throughout highereducation.This paper describes a recent NSF funded project under the Research Initiation Grant inEngineering Education (RIGEE) program. It correlates the programming language study tosecond language acquisition theory. Learning a programming language can be seen as analogousto learning a foreign or second language, since both involve the appropriate use of vocabulary(keywords), grammatical structures (syntax), and punctuation (symbols) that people need tounderstand in order to communicate with the computer. Just as knowledge of the vocabulary,grammar, and punctuation do not make someone fluent in a spoken language, being a successfulprogrammer requires more than just rote-knowledge. Current introductory programming coursesoften struggle to provide enough problem solving because so much time is spent on learning therote elements of the language. By applying the well-developed cognitive frameworks used insecond language acquisition (SLA), a Blended Learning (aBLe) course can be developed thatwill accommodate a variety of learning needs and abilities, while potentially increasing studentengagement in online components, providing better preparation for face-to-face classes that willemphasize the problem solving needed in other general education courses instead of justkeywords, syntax, and symbols. It will encourage the development of problem solving skillsneeded to persist in their higher education.
Sun, L., & Frederick, C. (2015, June), Applying Second Language Acquisition to Facilitate a Blended Learning of Programming Languages Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23567
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