Preconceptions of novice learners about program execution — Sylvia Da Rosa

What is a program? Sylvia says it is both text, but also a physical object that can be executed. An interesting example, is the correspondence between assignment and equivalence


The study is executed as follows. Students work with drinking glasses and liquids of different colours. The glasses are divided into 4 identical sets of 8 glasses each, and the students are divided into 4 groups. Each group of students works with a set of glasses. Each group will have 3 to 4 students. The groups work independently.

In the first activity, the groups are shown two glasses, as shown in Figure 1. The task consists in exchanging the liquids without altering or spilling them. That is to say: the red liquid must be poured into glass, and the green liquid into glass. But, that is not possible! The students are then asked what is needed to be able to do this.


The problems are then made harder (involving 8 glasses) Afterwards, students have to write programs for a “computer” which is another student, but with a cool twist. There is a CPU kid, a memory kid and a display kid:



Now, Sylvia tested kids’ understanding on program execution with questions like these.


The results aren’t all that clear yet, it is very much work on progress, so there was little to report on that front. I really like this game itself and the results are promising too!! All PPIG papers are here so you can check it out yourself!


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