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Dinçer Özoran


Introduction Recent studies show that there is increasing dependence on computer science in a great variety of areas which require analytic and abstract thinking ranging from engineering to humanities (Carey, 2010). As the dependence increases and widens, people employed in such areas have to be equipped at least with some basic knowledge of computer science. Thus, it is highly crucial to provide computer science education to students of all levels, starting from secondary school to university education. However, students receiving introductory courses of computer science are observed to find them highly challenging. Studies conducted in the last decade have shown that the rate of dropout students in freshman year is quite high in computer science when compared to other disciplines. A variety of studies conducted by researchers, from different countries, report that the percentage is mostly around 30%-50% (Xenos et al., 2002; HEA, 2010; Kinnunen& Malmi, 2006; Denning& McGettrick, 2005). This rate may suggest that there is a significant problem for the beginners. Among Computer Science courses, programming is one of the subjects, which challenges the students the most. A multinational and multi-institutional study carried out by the ³McCracken group´ has found that the average programming ability score of first year students is only about 23 out of 110 (McCracken et al., 2001 as cited in Ma et al., 2011). What makes programming difficult to learn depends on the student¶s level of education, i.e. secondary and university education. While the adolescents¶ problems related to learning programming is mostly caused by the lack of motivation, the sources of problems experienced in the university level may show a great variety. In this paper, I will try to cover common problems and proposed instructional solutions for beginner programmers in secondary school and university. Problems in Programming Education According to Robins (2003) psychological and educational side of programming has first attracted the attention with studies in 1970s and continued to the end of 1980s (see Sackman, 1970; Wein, 1971; .Sheil, 1981; Gilmore 1990a; Soloway & Spohner, 1989 as cited

2003). These studies show general conversion in some discussion topics. 2003). The importance of motivation in adolescents¶ learning of computer knowledge though not programming is highly emphasized in Papastergiou¶s study (2008).. it can be claimed that the traditional education does not provide motivation for them because. . The adolescents are so fond of the ³challenging world of games´ that it makes ³scholastic content and practices seem tedious and meaningless´ (Papastergiou.. This is simply the difference between knowing what a ³loop´ means and using it adequately in a programming solution. It is generally accepted that approximately 10 years of experience is need for a novice programmer to become an expert (Winslow. As for the teaching methods¶ effect in students¶ learning. Another problematic issue is the gap between programming knowledge and strategies. 2008).Dinçer Özoran in Robins et al. One of them is being novice versus expert in programming. loops. Of course this transition is not direct and claimed to have mid-stages like advance beginner. as adolescents. Besides. Thus. Programming requires students to suggest solutions to certain problems and to comprehend the way language and syntax work and it is these requirements that make programming abstract and thus difficult for the secondary school students. Unlikely from the most of other educational subjects. 2008). It is obvious that problems of educating novices will be different from the experts and the former one will be in our focus in next sections. it requires a hands-on Programming is comprehension versus generation of programs and procedural versus object-oriented programming. 2003). programming requires a highly abstract knowledge of concepts like recursion. 1986 as cited in Robins. Programming knowledge is The abstract quality of programming and the passive and traditional teaching methods are among the main reasons why the secondary school students have problems in succeeding in programming courses. competence and proficiency in between (Dreyfus & Dreyfus. objects and functions. secondary school students are mostly motivated when they are given the opportunities of self-expression and self-assessment (Papastergiou. He suggests that the digital games providing ³challenge. 2007). 2008. 1996 as cited in Robins. Kelleher et al. fantasy and curiosity´ to adolescents can perfectly be used for educational purposes when combined with curricular contents (Papastergiou.

girls who has spent more time with Storytelling Alice more strongly expressed their willingness to pursue their interest in programming. Basically. They created two kinds of Alice programming: Storytelling Alice and Generic Alice both of which provide the girls with the chance of creating high level animations with simplified language and syntax. middle-school girls tend to like telling stories which is a way of self-expression. according to the results of the study. the study of Kelleher et al. Therefore. the fact that Storytelling Alice is compatible with the age and gender of the programming students is what makes it motivational. That is to say. however. lack of encouragement from peers. puts forward a programming environment called Storytelling Alice.Dinçer Özoran combination of this entertaining and engaging world of games with the formal education can lead to enjoyable and effective learning. Girls showed equal success in each type of Alice programming. According to the observations of Kelleher et al. The study of Kelleher et al. However. Thanks to Storytelling Alice. while the animations of Generic Alice are arbitrary and do not follow any stories. Their study has been done to motivate secondaryschool girls towards computer science as the researchers think that the number of women is considerably low in computer science. proposes certain reasons for the motivational value of Storytelling Alice. . parents and educators and relatively fewer opportunities to interact with computers´ (Kelleher et al. designing the courses of computer science in general and programming in particular in accordance with the needs and interests of the students¶ age and gender can enable the students to succeed. As for motivational and effective teaching method for programming rather than computer knowledge for adolescents. it offers the girls with the chance of selfassessment as they can identify themselves with several characters that they create. to launch girl-students to computer science the researchers worked with over 200 middle-school girls in two years as they think the years of middle school is when many students make decision about whether or not to pursue science. math based disciplines. They suggest several reasons for the low involvement of women which are basically ³disinterest in computers.. 2007). Storytelling Alice offers the girls the chance of creating a story of their own. concerns about computer culture. girls get ³appreciation from non-programming friends´.