Volume 7

Volume 7, Number 80

July 20, 2009

10 pages591 K bytes

A Qualitative Look at Alice and Pair-Programming

Elizabeth V. Howard
Miami University Middletown
Middletown, OH 45042 USA

Donna Evans
Miami University Middletown
Middletown Ohio 45042 USA

Jill Courte
Miami University Hamilton
Hamilton, OH 45011 USA

Cathy Bishop-Clark
Miami University Middletown
Middletown, OH 45042 USA

Abstract: In previous studies, we have used quantitative methods to examine the effectiveness of the Alice programming language in terms of student enjoyment, confidence, and learning outcomes. However, in terms of the overall quality of a learning experience, quantitative measures provide only part of the story. This paper reports on the use of Alice from a student perspective using qualitative data gathered from student reflective exercises and focus groups. Eighty-nine (89) students from six (6) different sections of an introductory computing class for non-majors completed a 2.5-week programming module using the Alice interactive graphical programming language. Students in two (2) sections completed the Alice programming module individually and students in four (4) sections used the pair-programming paradigm, where two programmers work on the same program at the same time using the same computer. At the end of the module, all 89 students wrote a reflective essay on their experience with Alice and focus groups were facilitated in three (3) different sections. This qualitative data indicates that students who used Alice reported that they enjoyed programming, had confidence in their programming ability, understood basic programming concepts, and understood the relationship between algorithms and Alice stories.

Keywords: Alice programming language, pair-programming, attitudes, introductory programming

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Recommended Citation: Howard, Evans, Courte, and Bishop-Clark (2009). A Qualitative Look at Alice and Pair-Programming. Information Systems Education Journal, 7 (80). http://isedj.org/7/80/. ISSN: 1545-679X. (A preliminary version appears in The Proceedings of ISECON 2006: §2342. ISSN: 1542-7382.)