June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Computers in Education
11.1373.1 - 11.1373.10
Using a Java Certification Book and Mock Exam in an Introductory Programming Course
Introductory programming courses, such as those taught in Java, provide foundations upon which disciplines such as computer science and computer engineering are structured. Accordingly, it is appropriate to employ mechanisms that determine whether the student is adequately prepared and if the program provides sufficient coverage to ensure that the foundations are solid. Certification exams are one way for Java programmers to validate their skills through use of an externally designed standard. It is common for a programmer to prepare for such an exam by purchasing a certification guide and practice by working through review questions and taking mock exams. Java certification guides allow one to review the essential features of the Java programming language, their syntax, and their correct usage. While the typical Java certification guide does not serve as a language reference nor does it promote particular programming techniques, it does serve as a primer on selected topics that where it has been determined that a need for mastery exists. Additionally, these guides contain a repository of questions tailored to examine whether or not someone had achieved such mastery. So why not use this material in the evaluation of this portion of the undergraduate curriculum?
This paper examines the use of a Java certification guidebook in a third quarter introductory programming course; the students have previously had two quarters of instruction in the C++ programming language. The guidebook, "A Programmer's Guide to Java Certification," by Mughal and Rasmussen,1 was used in conjunction with a traditional textbook to provide a complete treatment over the course material. This guidebook was written to provide coverage over the certification objectives of the Sun Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform (SCPJ2) 1.4 Exam. However, the preface to the book makes it clear that it is not meant to be a complete Java reference, nor is it meant to be a book on teaching one how to program. Instead, it emphasizes the salient features of the Java programming language, their syntax, and their correct use. The areas covered include language fundamentals, operators and assignments, declarations and access control, control flow, exception handling, object-oriented programming, nested classes and interfaces, object lifetime, threads, fundamental classes, and the Collections framework. Each chapter in the book contains a discussion of the pertinent concepts being covered, example code, programming exercises, and sets of review questions. The review questions are in multiple choice format, with the number of correct answers for each question being provided. One of the appendices contains the annotated solutions to the review questions, featuring either a brief explanation as to why the answer is correct or why the other responses are incorrect. The book also provides information regarding taking the SCPJ2 1.4 Exam, study notes over the exam objectives, and a mock exam with separate, annotated answers.
The course was organized such that students were assigned periodic readings from both the certification book and the textbook; the rate of coverage was roughly one chapter per week. At the end of each week the students were given a quiz based on a subset of the review questions
Estell, J. K. (2006, June), Using A Java Certification Book And Mock Exam In An Introductory Programming Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--61
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