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PairProgrammingCS12005 - First Year Students Impressions of...

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First Year Students’ Impressions of Pair Programming in CS1 Beth Simon Computer Science and Engineering Dept. University of California, San Diego La Jolla, CA 92093-0404 +01 858 534 5419 [email protected] Brian Hanks Computer Science Information Systems Dept. Fort Lewis College Durango, CO 81301 +01 970 247 7344 [email protected] ABSTRACT Pair programming, as part of the Agile Development process, has noted benefits in professional software development scenarios. These successes have led to a rise in use of pair programming in educational settings, particularly in CS1. Specifically [6] has shown that students using pair programming in CS1 do better in a CS2 class (with solo programming) than students who don’t pair in CS1. This paper seeks to address a similar question, but from a qualitative, student-focused approach. How do students define, experience and value the pair programming experience? How do they experience and value it compared to solo programming? Does pairing in CS1 impact their confidence in their abilities? We report on semi-structured interviews with eleven subjects from two institutions where pair programming was used in CS1 and solo programming was used in the next course. Many of the responses met our expectations: students get stuck less and explore more ideas while pairing, and believe that pair programming helped them in CS1. Other responses were more surprising. Students reported that when solo programming that they were more confident and understood their programs better. Many students also said that they started work on their assignments earlier when soloing. Students also continue to use other students as resources even when working “solo”. Categories and Subject Descriptors K.3.2 [ Computers and Education ]: Computer and Information Science Education General Terms Human Factors Keywords Pair programming, CS1, novice, qualitative, debugging, interview 1. INTRODUCTION Traditionally, learning to program is a solitary activity. Pair programming (PP) transforms it into a collaborative learning process. Using PP in CS1 provides many pedagogical benefits. Compared with students who work alone, students who pair in their introductory programming course are more confident in their work, are more likely to complete the course, and are more likely to remain in or select a computing-related major within one year of completing the course [6]. PP appears to establish a strong foundation for students. Students who pair in CS1 continue to outperform their non-pairing peers, even when they begin working by themselves. For example, students who pair in CS1 are more likely to pass CS2 on their first attempt than students who work by themselves (that is, who solo program (SP)) in CS1 [6]. PP also appears to reduce the gender gap among students in computing-related majors. Typically, female computer science students are less confident in their abilities than male students, even when their actual levels of competence are the same [4].
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