June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.1084.1 - 13.1084.17
Skills development using Logo – experiences with first year engineering students on an extended study program
Since 2003, Logo has been used in a developmental course, Professional Orientation, presented to first year students enrolled for an extended study program in engineering. Ongoing action research at the University of Pretoria has identified a lack of competence in mathematics and mathematical thinking skills as well as shortcomings in communication skills in the background of freshmen engineering students. The use of Logo is purposefully structured with little emphasis on programming per se as a minimum of Logo programming commands are used. The accent is on the development of logical and procedural thinking skills, observational skills, as well as analysis and synthesis. IT and communication skills, including reading, writing and comprehension skills, are also fostered. The Logo course content relies on basic knowledge of a 2-D set of axes, elementary concepts from trigonometry and Euclidian geometry as well as algebra. The underlying pedagogical approach is based on the principles of whole brain thinking and learning and with emphasis on assisting the students in making the transition from an empirical-inductive thinking pattern to a hypothetical-deductive thinking pattern. Qualitative analysis of students' feedback shows that the experiences with Logo, when used in an innovative pedagogical approach, with content and a learning environment that is new to students, contribute to intellectual growth and a sense of achievement.
Logo was originally developed by Seymour Papert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the mid-1960s. It is a programming language that enables the creation of programs of varying levels of sophistication, depending on the skill of the programmer. Since it first appeared, numerous variations of the Logo interface have been developed. These are available commercially and as freeware. Freeware versions include UCB Logo1 and MSW Logo (which has an MS Windows interface, but uses the UCB Logo core).2 Terrapin Logo3 is a commercial version which is used in the activities reported in this paper. It was chosen as its level of interface sophistication fits our educational aims. Logo is traditionally viewed as an educational tool to explore mathematics in the realm of elementary school curricula and its use with children to develop better thinking skills has been widely researched and reported.4 However, Logo has also been used extensively in undergraduate computer courses at the University of California at Berkeley.1 During the 1980s and 1990s much was written on Logo and its (potential) educational uses, but this enthusiasm for Logo seems to have diminished. In the United States, Terrapin Software is still actively involved in promoting Logo as a tool for learning.5 In all the interface variations, the Logo philosophy and the basics of the Logo language have remained the same, namely, that Logo offers a participatory, hands-on environment and promotes self directed learning. We are of opinion that Logo is still a very effective tool for learning but its decline in popularity is probably due to lack of insight into its capabilities by educators. In high schools it is often seen as a programming language, rather than an aid to developing logical thinking skills.
Steyn, T., & Carr, A. (2008, June), Skills Development Using Logo – Experiences With First Year Engineering Students On An Extended Study Programme Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3321
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