Programming Versus Natural Language: On the Effect of Context on Typing in CS1

John Edwards, Juho Leinonen, Chetan Birthare, Albina Zavgorodniaia, Arto Hellas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Analyzing keystroke data from students working on essay and programming tasks, we study to what extent the difference in task context influences performance in typing. Using data from two introductory programming courses offered at two separate institutions, we compare and contrast typing speed between programming and natural language tasks. We observe that students tend to be faster at typing (the same) character pairs when writing natural language text than when learning to write code. We show that students improve on typing character pairs that appear in frequently used words in programming languages, and that typing programming constructs also improves. We find that students are faster at detecting and erasing their mistakes when typing natural language text than when programming. Our results support theories regarding contextual memory, procedural memory, and practice, and have implications for course curriculum and pedagogy design.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICER 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research
PublisherACM
Pages204-215
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450370929
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2020
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventACM Conference on International Computing Education Research - Virtual, Online, New Zealand
Duration: 10 Aug 202012 Aug 2020
Conference number: 16

Conference

ConferenceACM Conference on International Computing Education Research
Abbreviated titleICER
CountryNew Zealand
CityVirtual, Online
Period10/08/202012/08/2020

Keywords

  • cognitive load
  • memory context
  • procedural memory
  • schemas
  • typing

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