[Edu-sig] How to evaluate programming skills, are there any international benchmarks?

Linda Grandell lgrandel at abo.fi
Fri Jun 18 07:24:47 EDT 2004

>>The reason I am telling you all this is to set some kind of background 
>>to what I want to ask you about. I am about to engage myself in research 
>>as a PhD-student, focusing on how programming and algorithmic thinking 
>>can be taught to high school students. I have been very fascinated by 
>>Python, and have decided to use that as the first thing to try out in 
>>order to get some results on how high school students should (or 
>>shouldn't :) be taught.
> Linda, as a PhD candidate you must have some theories on how high school 
> students should or shouldn't be taught.  Would you care to share?
> What experiments do you plan to do to test you hypothesis?
> Thanks,
> Jeff Sandys

Hi Jeff,

Nice to see you are interested in teaching programming to high school 
students programming. As I wrote in my first post (I think), I am in the 
very beginning of my research, and haven't made any final decisions yet. 
Currently, I am reading about what have already been done, and my plan 
is to choose the best parts from different approaches and combine them 
into one, single strategy for teaching. This is probably the way all 
researchers in this field start out :)

At this point I am thinking of using Python, pair programming, 
"lectureless instruction" and work in labs. I will write a short 
tutorial in Swedish, using "How to think as a Computer Scientist" as a 
basis. I am not really sure on how detailed the tutorial will be, that 
depends on how much time I have :) I have also thought about introducing 
PyGame as "something fun to work with" outside class.

Before I make any decisions regarding experiments etc. I want to read 
the book "Computer Science Education Research" by Fincher and Petre 
(http://www.szp.swets.nl/szp/books/19629.htm). I have ordered it, but it 
hasn't come yet; with my luck, I am sure it won't arrive until after the 
vacations sometimes in August.

I would be glad to share and discuss ideas with others. Teaching 
programming is a challenge, but indeed an interesting and motivating one!


Linda Grandell, M.Sc.
Assistant, Department of Computer Science
Åbo Akademi University


"You are never given a dream without also being given the power to
make it true." - R.Bach

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