Don’t Run to the Computer 2021

Don’t Run to the Computer 2021

Hi Friends, 

You can see about of all info computer education. Constructivism suggests that programming exercises should be delayed until class discussion has enabled the construction of a good model of the computer. Too often students become infatuated with the absolute ontology supplied by the computer. 


 

Premature attempts to write programs lead to bricolage and delay the development of viable models. While formal methods in CSE are extremely important, you need not go to the extreme that Dijkstra (1989) advocates and entirely give up compilation and execution of programs. 

There is nothing wrong with experimentation and bricolage-style debugging, as long as it supplements, rather than supplants, planning and formal methods. Unfortunately, CSE is heavily weighted on the side of bricolage. A high-school course we are developing comes in for scathing criticism from many students (and some teachers!) because we insist on “wasting time” on algorithm development and analysis, instead of just getting on with writing and debugging programs.

Laboratory Organization One of the debates in CSE concerns the choice between closed labs— where students work on assignments at an appointed time in a supervised setting, and open labs—where students work on assignments whenever convenient. From a constructivist viewpoint, especially from a social constructivist one, closed labs should be preferable, not only because they soften the brutality of the interaction with the computer, but also because they facilitate the social interaction that is apparently necessary for successful construction. 

In fact, Thweatt (1994) found empirical evidence for the superiority of closed labs over open labs. The type of problems assigned is also important; as opposed to minimalism’s emphasis on task performance, problems should encourage cognitive operations such as reflection and exploration:

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