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Use Of Problem Solving Skills In An Introductory Microprocessor Course

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.572.1 - 4.572.9

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Paper Authors

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Ronald H. Rockland

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

Session 3147

Use of Problem Solving Skills in an Introductory Microprocessor Course

Dr. Ronald H. Rockland New Jersey Institute of Technology


This paper describes a ten-step approach for solving computer application problems in an introductory microprocessor course at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The steps include problem solving techniques, algorithm development, flowcharting and anticipating potential problems. Students were not expected to start developing code until the ninth step. Student experiences with these concepts and a project lab that incorporates these steps are also discussed.


Technical people do not think effectively in assembly or higher level programming languages, but rather in their native language. However, it is too easy for students taking an introductory microprocessor course to start programming first by thinking in a computer language, without any planning. This can lead to poor programming skills, as well as frustration with programming in general.

In a third year introductory course to microprocessors in the electrical engineering technology program at NJIT, assembly language was introduced as a tool to understand the x86 structure. In the past students were given assignments to enhance their programming skills, and developed increasingly difficult programs. Over the past year, changes were made to enhance the use of problem-solving skills prior to programming.

To better understand how to approach a problem that needs to be coded, a 10-step method was created. Several of the steps are approaches used in higher level languages, and can be applied to assembly language programming. The approach could easily be applied to other types of technical problems beyond programming. This paper will describe that 10-step method, and how it was incorporated in the microprocessor course.

It should be noted that in this process, step 9 is the actual writing of code. The concept of this paper is that writing code is just one small portion of developing a program, and if all the other pre-coding steps are followed, the chances of having developed a working, rugged, and easy to debug program are greatly enhanced.

During the course, examples were given to the students to illustrate many of steps that are discussed in this paper. One of the examples that were given is detailed below.

Rockland, R. H. (1999, June), Use Of Problem Solving Skills In An Introductory Microprocessor Course Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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