Concretising the programming task: a case study in a secondary school
Computers & Education Volume 40, Number 2, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Empirica Control (EC) is a visual programming platform designed primarily for technology education. Students can use EC's visual tools to construct programs for controlling technological processes or systems, as well as to show graphical representation of program functions on a control flow diagram (flowchart). This means that EC is also a useful tool in learning programming. EC unifies flow diagrams with concrete semantics: each program structure corresponds to a factual event in the learner's physical environment, not just as a visual representation on the screen. A teaching experiment for 34 eighth grade (14 years old) students using EC in a learning environment was intended to promote active, co-operative, and problem-centred learning. The data were gathered by teacher interview, observations during a teaching experiment, a questionnaire with a Likert scale instrument, and a test with open tasks. The results indicate that control technology, as implemented in EC, serves as a useful tool for learning principal elements of programming, like control structures, with minimal teaching effort. However, for more complex structures, teacher intervention is clearly required to achieve advanced outcomes. Thus, EC has suggested an important subject for further research: approaching the balance between student-centred exploration and teacher-guided instruction in learning environments.
Lavonen, J.M., Meisalo, V.P., Lattu, M. & Sutinen, E. (2003). Concretising the programming task: a case study in a secondary school. Computers & Education, 40(2), 115-135. Elsevier Ltd.