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Motivating Students to Learn a Programming Language: Applying a Second Language Acquisition Approach in a Blended Learning Environment

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division: Online Learning

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30823

Download Count

16

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Paper Authors

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Lulu Sun Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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LDr. Lulu Sun is an associate professor of Engineering Fundamentals Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where she has taught since 2006. She received her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Harbin Engineering University (China) in 1999, and her Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Riverside in 2006. Before joining Embry-Riddle, she worked for Arup at Los Angeles office as a fire engineer. Her research interests include second language acquisition in programming languages, flipped classroom, and best practices of virtual training delivery. She is a professional member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, and a member of the American Society for Engineering Education. She has published over 40 journal and conference articles nationally and internationally.

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Christina Frederick Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4637-7842

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Dr. Frederick is currently a Professor and MS Graduate Program Coordinator in the Human Factors and Systems Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Dr. Frederick received her Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of Rochester with a major in Psychological Development. She previously taught at the University of Rochester, Southern Utah University and the University of Central Florida. In 2000, Dr. Frederick joined the Human Factors and Systems Department at Embry-Riddle, where her work focused on applied motivation and human factors issues in aviation/aerospace. Dr. Frederick also served in various roles in University administration between 2004-2012, including Vice President for Academics and Research. Dr. Frederick’s current research interests examine how individual differences interact with technology to enhance educational engagement and performance. Dr. Frederick is the author of more than 50 research publications, 4 book chapters and over 60 regional, national and international conference presentations on a wide range of topics in human factors and psychology. She is active in a number of professional associations, and is a Consultant for Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology.

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Caroline Liron Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Caroline Liron is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Fundamentals Department, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), where she has been teaching since 2005. She obtained her bachelor's in Aeronautics and Space from EPF, Ecole d'Ingénieur (France), and her M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from ERAU. She currently teaches Introduction to Programming for Engineers. She is involved in developing and maintaining the hybrid version of that class, and researching improvements methods to teach programming to incoming freshmen using new technologies. She also researches means to incorporate more engineering mathematics and physics into the programming course.

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Li Ding

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Li Ding is a visiting professor of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where she has been since 2012. She received her Ph.D in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010. She taught several undergraduate courses in engineering and in science, and she currently teach Introductory to Programming for Engineers. From a background of an engineer, she is transitioning into an educator, and has been working with other principle researchers on education studies since 2015.

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Lei Gu Georgia State University

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Dr. Gu is an Engineering Assistant Professor at Georgia State University. She is a Georgia Tech Regents’ Engineering Pathway Program (REPP) coordinator. Dr. Gu received her Ph.D. in Material Science and Engineering from Norfolk State University. Her research interests include scientific visualization and engineering education. Dr. Gu has taught five freshman and sophomore level engineering course.

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Andrew Calvin Griggs II Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Andrew Griggs is a human factors graduate student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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Paula Sanjuan Espejo Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Paula Sanjuan Espejo Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I worked as an undergraduate research assistant for the SLA-aBLe project from Spring 2014 until the end of 2017.

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Abstract

Learning a programing language typically involves acquisition of new vocabulary, punctuation, and grammatical structures in order to communicate with a computer. In other words, learning a programming language is like learning a human language. A recent study also showed that programmers use language regions of the brain when understanding source code and found little activation in other regions of the brain devoted to mathematical thinking. Even though programming code involved mathematical operations, conditionals, and loop iterations, researchers found that programming had less in common with mathematics and more in common with human language. In our study, we applied the well-developed cognitive framework used in second language acquisition (SLA), into a Blended Learning (aBLe) programming language course. We believe this approach can accommodate a variety of learning needs and abilities, while potentially increasing student engagement in online components, reducing the intimidation and anxiety associated with learning programming languages, and providing better preparation for face-to-face classes. SLA-aBLe will encourage the development of problem solving skills needed to persist in their higher education. The online module consists of a series of short videos (12 minutes), online quizzes with tiered questions including program writing problems, and a topic-specific discussion board led by student researchers. Lab practice time is used to augment the online content through collaborative learning exercises, such as think, pair, and share. The SLA-aBLe program utilized strategies in five stages defined in SLA practice, such as more self-testing, tiered questions and visual-aided explanations in the screencasts, more online programming writing assessments, more collaboration, and ‘speak aloud’ in the lab. In the past two years, we have conducted a series of assessments to measure program outcomes, including student demographics, perceptions, attitudes, and satisfaction level comparing SLA-aBLe, and control groups. Students’ academic performance between SLA-aBLe course sections and Non-SLA sections were compared as well.

Sun, L., & Frederick, C., & Liron, C., & Ding, L., & Gu, L., & Griggs, A. C., & Sanjuan Espejo, P., & Sanjuan Espejo, P. (2018, June), Motivating Students to Learn a Programming Language: Applying a Second Language Acquisition Approach in a Blended Learning Environment Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30823

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