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An investigation of the impact of human cognition on the acquisition of computer programming skills by students at a university

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dc.contributor.author Ranjeeth, Sanjay
dc.date.accessioned 2008-09-12T12:20:01Z
dc.date.available 2008-09-12T12:20:01Z
dc.date.issued 2008
dc.identifier.other 314586
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10321/346
dc.description Thesis (M.Tech.: Information technology)- Dept. of Information Technology, Durban University of Technology, 2008. vii, 131 leaves. en_US
dc.description.abstract This study aimed to explore the impact of cognitive ability on the understanding of computer programming by students enrolled for a programming course at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The rationale for this study is provided by the general perception held by the academic community that computer programming is a difficult faculty to master. This assertion is corroborated by reports of high failure rates in computer programming courses at tertiary institutes. A literature review was undertaken to investigate the contribution of other factors on the ability to achieve competence in computer programmer. Based on the outcome of the literature review, this study argues that cognitive ability warrants a higher priority relative to the other factors. As a strategy, cognitive science theory was consulted to establish a framework to quantify competency in computer programming. On the basis of this endeavour, two protocols were identified to facilitate the quantification process. The first was the “deep and surface” protocol used in previous studies to ascertain students’ cognitive style of understanding for computer programming. The second was an error analysis framework which was developed as part of the current study. These protocols were used as frameworks to underpin the data collection phase of the study. This study found that at least 50% of the students enrolled in a computer programming course adopt a superficial approach to the understanding of computer programming. In order to explain this phenomenon, a cognitive ability test was administered. Here it was established that at least 39% of these students have not reached a level of cognitive development that will enable the invocation of abstract thought. The study also found that this inability to handle abstractionism, an essential requirement for success in computer programming, is reflected in the severity of errors made in computer programming assessment tasks. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Computer programming en_US
dc.subject Cognitive styles en_US
dc.subject Cognition Testing en_US
dc.title An investigation of the impact of human cognition on the acquisition of computer programming skills by students at a university en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.dut-rims.pubnum DUT-000293


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