Connections and Influences among Topics of Learning How to Program

Yorah Bosse, David F. Redmiles, Marco Gerosa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


This Full Paper of Innovative Practice research shows results that could help to avoid some challenges faced by those who seek to learn how to program. To help improve learning, educators need a deep understanding of the obstacles students must overcome; otherwise, teaching strategies will be uncertain. Moreover, a shallow understanding of topics learned in introductory programming courses can negatively influence the learning of future topics. With the above motivation, we conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with instructors who teach introductory programming courses and we also collected diaries kept by 110 students during their studies. The qualitative analysis of these data revealed connections between the studied contents such as dependencies. Our analysis shows that many difficulties arise from the incorrect application of the knowledge necessary in learning new content, usually because the student has not learned earlier topics or learned them superficially. The main contribution of this paper is a theory that describes the connections among topics of learning how to program, showing the influence that knowledge about one can have on others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2019 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2019
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781728117461
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Event49th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2019 - Covington, United States
Duration: Oct 16 2019Oct 19 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference49th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • barriers to learning
  • computational thinking
  • introductory programming
  • learning to program
  • novice learners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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