Thesis

(1) The Case for Using Foreign Language Pedagogies in Introductory Computer Programming Instruction (2) A Contextualized pre-AP Computer Programming Curriculum: Models and Simulations for Exploring Real-World Cross-Curricular Topics

It is proposed that the high failure rate of novice programmers is due to the absence of pedagogies that teach a programming language as a language, per se. A 2014 fMRI study (Siegmund et al.) demonstrated that comprehension of computer programs utilizes regions of the brain involved in language processing, not math. Four language-based strategies, adapted from second language acquisition theories and pedagogies, anecdotally augment students' programming abilities. These are: memorization; setting components in relief; transformations; and ongoing exposure. A contextualized pre-AP graphics-based programming course using these strategies is outlined. Students construct/study Processing programs that simulate problems in cross-disciplinary domains: dynamic-art, geography, biology, political science and astronomy. This approach both engages students and better reflects the real-world role of CS as an applied science. Finally, a critique of secondary CS0 survey courses (Exploring-CS, APCS-Principles) and their nonsensical rationales for sidestepping the teaching of programming competence is delineated.

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