Pairlearning in Undergraduate Computer Science Education, CS1 class

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Title: Pairlearning in Undergraduate Computer Science Education, CS1 class
Author: Yang, Kai
Advisors: Laurie A. Williams, Committee Chair
Annie I. Anton, Committee Member
Eric N. Wiebe, Committee Member
Abstract: Anecdotal evidence in industry and academia has shown that pair programmers, whereby two programmers work collaboratively on the same task on one computer, can produce higher quality design and code than solo programmers who work alone. Educators in various fields have also found that collaborative work helps students learn better and allows them to be more confident in their study. Based on these two findings, pair learning, which is the practice of pair programming with students, was generated and applied in a computer science class setting. To validate the effectiveness of pair learning, an experiment was run in a CS1 course at North Carolina State University in the fall semester of 2001. The experiment focused on freshman and sophomores. Approximately 120 freshman and sophomores participated in the study. The students registered in two sections of a CS1 course without knowledge of the experiment. Both sections had the same instructor, same programming assignments and same examinations. One section utilized a traditional education style whereby all students worked alone; the other section followed the pair learning paradigm where all students working with a partner. Results supported the following findings: 1. Students who followed the pair learning style performed better on the programming assignments and were more likely to get a higher score on the examinations. 2. A higher percentage of the students who utilized the pair learning style succeeded in the CS1 class by completing the course with a grade of C or better. 3. The teaching assistants in the pair learning section had reduced workload, since students in the pair learning section were more self-sufficient. 4. Paired students demonstrated higher-order thinking skills than the students when compared with the students who worked alone. 5. Students in the pair learning section were more likely to think far beyond the programming assignment to applying their knowledge in more challenging programming contexts. 6. Paired students collaborated more extensively with each other; and collaboration is an important skill for programmers in industry.
Date: 2002-12-03
Degree: MS
Discipline: Computer Science

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