Learning Science, Engineering and Technology in ODL: A Learning Environment for Programming from Concrete to Abstract

By Patricia M Gouws, Elmarie Kritzinger and Keshnee Padayachee.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Programming abstractness is a challenge encountered in learning of programming languages, where courses introduce students of differing backgrounds to the skill required to manipulate an abstract world of programming. In teaching programming, the focus is on the syntax of the language rather than the design required for the programmed solution. The College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) at UNISA is currently involved in a community engagement project which coaches and mentors teams of school children for the First Lego League (FLL) challenge. This FLL initiative successfully teaches school children to program sufficiently enough in NXT to ensure that the robot completes several required robotic missions. The society spin-off from this initiative is team work, critical thinking, problem-solving and research skills, as well as an early introduction to the world of programming. This practice-focussed paper considers the development of a learning environment to teach programming moving from a concrete introduction to programming concepts. The aim is to determine the extent to which the benefits of this learning environment may be applied in the teaching and learning of programming in ODL.

Keywords: Programming, Engagement, FIRST Lego League

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.115-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 526.457KB).

Patricia M Gouws

Lecturer, School of Computing, College of Science, Engineering and Technology, School of Computing, CSET, UNISA, South Africa

Dr. Elmarie Kritzinger

School of Computing, CSET, UNISA, South Africa

Dr. Keshnee Padayachee

School of Computing, CSET, UNISA, South Africa