The ASEAN Journal of Education ASEAN Journal of Education

Learning gains in web programming course with automatic code generator program using a structured flowchart


Chanchai Supaartagorn,


Abstract

Following normalized gain concept, including class average normalized gain, single student normalized gain, single test item normalized gain, and conceptual dimensional normalized gain. The aim of this research was to assess learning gain for the computer programming course using automatic code generator using a structured flowchart (CGF tool). Moreover, the research aims to compare the understanding of the programming course between the experimental group and the control group. Data were collected from 58 students enrolled in web programming course. The data were collected through pre-test and post-test and then analyzed with descriptive statistics and inferential statistics using t-test and normalized gain. The findings, notably revealed that 1) Post-test score average of an experimental group was significantly higher than a control group at the level of 0.05. 2) Class average normalized gain of the experimental group was in the medium gain = 0.59 and control group was in the low gain = 0.23. 3) Single student normalized gain results showed that 3.1) an experimental group was in the high gain (39.02 percent), medium gain (46.35 percent) and low gain (14.63 percent). 3.2) a control group was in the high gain (5.88 percent), medium gain (29.41 percent) and low gain (64.71 percent). 4) Single test item normalized gain was in the high gain (3 items), medium gain (6 items) and low gain (1 item). 5) Conceptual dimensional normalized gain was in the high gain (1 concept) and medium gain (3 concepts).

Introduction
Computer programming course is one of the core
subjects in a wide variety of computer-related degree
programs, including Information Technology, Computer
Science, Computer Engineering. Students learn how to
write programs using common programming languages.
When they are learning in a program, novices face
difficulties in understanding the syntax and logic of
programming language. This is a challenge for instructors
to find ways to teach their students. In a computer
programming class the objective is not only for students
to be able to write programs, but also to be accurate in
the syntax and logic of programs.
Several research articles have shown a decline
in the number of students in computer programming
courses. For example, a study on an active learning
approach at the University of Mary Washington
confirmed the notion that learning how to program is
considered to be a difficult task for the majority of
students and this has been a prime reason for students'
dropping out of computer courses (Karen, 2008). A study
estimated that between 25 to 80 percent of students
dropped out of their first year computer science classes
due to the difficulty they faced in learning how to program
(Janet, & Tony, 2002). Some environments developed
for novice students, such as Scratch or Alice, have
considered a visual environment and error-free syntax
as key points for motivation and support. However, these
environments lack a way of expressing a solution in a
way familiar to novice students, thus the user cannot
easily verify whether the current solution matches their
intention (Edgar, 2013).
To alleviate the problem, one of the solutions is
to let students present the programming logic in the form
of a flowchart. The flowchart could be used to organize
the sequence of basic structure steps, including sequence
structure, selection structure, and iteration structure. In
addition, the complicated structure steps could be
described easily in the visual form of easy-to-understand,
including stacking structure, nested structure, and nesting
structure. A study on teaching computer programming
to adult students at Tairawhit Polytechnic, New Zealand
showed that 40% of the beginners preferred to use a
flowchart to understand programming, 40% wanted to
use pseudo code, and 20% wanted to use a real language
(Min, 2003). There are many research studies on using
flowchart for computer programming courses. The
animated flowchart for system programming course of
3rd-year students in Computer Science and Engineering
at Walchand Institute of Technology, India, was analyzed
using pre-test and post-test. One group pre-test, post-test
model is considered to test the effectiveness of this
activity. The result showed the significantly higher scores
in post-test than in pre-test (Sunita, 2015). The visual
programming using flowchart is a tool that allows the
programmer to write the program in the format of
flowchart, then compiles and run without the coding step.
The results showed the powerfulness, easiness, and
user-friendliness of the proposed system. It can be used
as a tool for teaching computer programming (Kanis, &
Somkiat, 2006). In addition, our previous research
implemented a tool serving as an automatic code generator
using a structured flowchart. The system evaluations
showed the average values of the satisfaction levels were
4.48 and 4.27 for the experts and the general users,
respectively (Chanchai, 2017). However, the evaluation
results of these researches didn’t show the effectiveness
of teaching methods. Moreover, the evaluation results
do not reflect the effectiveness of each topic. The purposes
of this research study are 1) to compare the understanding
of the programming course between using automatic
code generator via flowchart (experimental group) and
traditional study (control group); 2) to assesses students'
learning gain in programming course using automatic
code generator via flowchart. This study uses, a web
application for automatic code generator using a
structured flowchart in teaching and learning. There are
two sample groups of this research: experimental group
and control group. Ten questions were performed as
pre-test and post-test. The outcome data were analyzed
with t-test and normalized gain statistics, including
pre-test/post-test scores comparison, class average
normalized gain, single student normalized gain, single test
item normalized gain and conceptual dimensional
normalized gain. The result of the study will help to provide
an effective learning plan for the computer programming
course by using the flowchart in teaching and learning.

Key words: Learning gain,, Normalized gain, Programming course,, Flowchart
     
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