June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.496.1 - 14.496.9
Do Introverts Perform Better in Computer Programming Courses?
Any educator who has taught computer programming courses knows that some students have a very difficult time learning the basic concepts of computer programming. There often is no middle ground with the grades in these courses. Once a student catches on to the basic concepts, he or she has an easy time with the rest of the course. However, some students of high intelligence and who receive high marks in non-programming courses seem to continually struggle through these courses. Recently while reading about the personality traits of introverts, we noticed that many qualities attributed to introverts also match the traits found in great computer programmers. For example, attention to detail, the ability to concentrate for long periods of time and good logical thinking skills are published qualities found in both introverts and successful software developers. To see if we could find any correlation with a student’s tendency towards introversion or extroversion, and potential success in our computer programming courses, we performed a study during the Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 semesters. We gave all students enrolled in each of the five programming courses we offered these semesters a short personality trait test and then compared their tendencies towards introversion or extroversion with the letter grade they received at the end of the course. We anticipated finding higher grades among those students classified as introverts and lower grades among those students classified as extroverts. Additionally, we anticipated finding a higher number of introverts enrolled in our upper division programming courses because these courses are elective. In this paper we will explore the traits found in introverts and programmers in more detail, discuss the personality test we used, and present our complete findings.
As educators who primarily teach software development courses, we know that some students have a very difficult time learning the fundamentals of computer programming. There often is no middle ground with the grades in these introductory courses. Students who catch on to the basic concepts of computer programming have an easy time with the remainder of the course work. The students who don’t grasp the fundamentals struggle the entire term. Because of their failing grade and/or lack of knowledge, these students must retake the course or may even switch majors.
Failure to earn a passing grade in a college course is often directly attributable to the effort put forth by the student. However, the authors of this study have each known many students of seemingly high intelligence and who normally earn high marks in non-programming courses, struggle with our computer programming courses. For example, one student who graduated as the high school valedictorian could not pass our introductory programming course on the first try.
During a counseling session with one student who was failing our introductory programming course, the lead author of this study discussed the student’s personality traits with him. This conversation was prompted by the author having just finished reading “The Introvert Advantage
Lutes, K., & Harriger, A., & Purdum, J. (2009, June), Do Introverts Perform Better In Computer Programming Courses? Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5451
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