Asee peer logo

Pattern Based Programming Instruction

Download Paper |


1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.349.1 - 1.349.10

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Walter Beck

author page

S. Rebecca Thomas

author page

Janet Drake

author page

J. Philip East

author page

Eugene Wallingford

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1626

Pattern-based Programming Instruction*

J. Philip East, S. Rebecca Thomas, Eugene Wallingford, Walter Beck, Janet Drake University of Northern Iowa/Marist College

Several years ago a group of our computer science faculty began seriously examining initial programming instruction. We discovered a shared perception that too many students don't write reason- able programs even after completing a semester course in programming. Others have noted the same may even be true after the second course (e.g., [1]). There is cause for concern as computer applications pervade our society, often in life-critical situations. Our students are producing some of those applications.

Typical programming instruction tries to both cover syntax and instill skill in algorithm develop- ment. Students are quickly writing their own programs after minimal instruction and an example or two. They write programs by putting statements together in ways that, as often as not, are poor if not outright incorrect. Instructors or graders provide some feedback to the students after several days. By that time instruction has moved on and another assignment has been assigned. Understandably, students pay little attention to the feedback and too often have little chance to apply it even if they did attend to it. As this happens repeatedly during the term, the end result is that too large a fraction of the students never actually produce a good program. Many introductory texts address top-down-design by admonishing students to break larger problems into smaller problems and by giving static examples that illustrate a very dynamic process. Students seem to ignore the examples and get no insight into how problems can be broken down. The texts illustrate an overwhelming concern with the "what" of instruction but almost no knowledge or insight into the "how".

An additional concern about programming instruction relates to the improvement of pedagogy. There seem to be few espoused principles for designing instruction. Astrachan and Reed [1] indicate most

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE- 9455736.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Beck, W., & Thomas, S. R., & Drake, J., & East, J. P., & Wallingford, E. (1996, June), Pattern Based Programming Instruction Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1996 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015