First Things First: Providing Metacognitive Scaffolding for Interpreting Problem Prompts
11:10 AM - 11:35 AM
Fri Mar 1, 2019
Hyatt: Greenway J (2nd floor)


Best Paper for CS Education Research. When solving programming problems, novices are often not aware of where they are in the problem-solving process. For instance, students who misinterpret the problem prompt will most likely not form a valid conceptual model of the task and fail to make progress towards a working solution. Avoiding such errors, and recovering from them once they occur, requires metacognitive skills that enable students to reflect on their problem-solving processes. For these reasons, developing metacognitive awareness is crucially important for novice students. Previous research has shown that explicitly teaching key steps of programming problem-solving, and having students reflect on where they are in the problem-solving process, can help students complete future programming assignments. Such metacognitive awareness training can be done through personal tutoring, but can be difficult to implement without a high ratio of instructors to students. We explore a more scalable approach, making use of an automated assessment tool, and conduct a controlled experiment to see whether scaffolding the problem-solving process would increase metacognitive awareness and improve student performance. We collected all code submissions by students in both control and experimental groups, as well as data from direct observation using a think-aloud protocol. We found that students who received the intervention showed a higher degree of understanding of the problem prompt and were more likely to complete the programming task successfully.

James Prather Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Abilene Christian University
Raymond Pettit Assisstant Professor of Computer Science, University of Virginia
Brett A. Becker University College Dublin
Paul Denny The University of Auckland
Dastyni Loksa PHD Candidate / Research Assistant, University of Washington
Alani Peters Abilene Christian University
Zachary Albrecht Abilene Christian University
Krista Masci Abilene Christian University

Add to my calendar


Create your personal schedule through the official app, Whova!

Get Started