MURAL - Maynooth University Research Archive Library

    Investigating the Use of Pair Programming for Teaching Data Structures and Algorithms

    Maguire, Phil and Maguire, Rebecca and Marshall, Patrick (2011) Investigating the Use of Pair Programming for Teaching Data Structures and Algorithms. In: AISHE-C 2011: The Challenge for Graduates in a Changed World, 25-26 August 2011, Dublin City University.

    Download (119kB) | Preview

    Share your research

    Twitter Facebook LinkedIn GooglePlus Email more...

    Add this article to your Mendeley library


    Incoming university students who have not previously studied computer programming often find it a challenging subject, leading to high failure rates (Williams & Upchurch, 2001). As a result, enrolment in computer science courses is declining (Carver et al., 2007), with the participation of female students being particularly affected (Werner, Hanks & McDowell, 2004). Research has suggested that the lack of a formalized structure for collaborative learning may be one of the factors responsible for students’ negative impressions of computer science (Werner et al., 2004). In this study we investigated whether the use of pair programming in labs would facilitate peer learning and enhance students’ confidence in their programming ability. The hypothesis motivating this intervention was that the more experienced programmers would transmit some of their knowledge to the weaker students and that the class as a whole would benefit from having the support of a partner to identify problem solving strategies and to resolve coding bugs. Results showed that the intervention was generally well received, although the weaker programmers were more positive about it than the stronger ones. Students that reported learning from pair programming were less likely to enjoy programming (r = -.496), less likely to enjoy labs (r = -.502), more likely to struggle with understanding lab material (r = .561) and more likely to report a lack of confidence in programming (r = -.415). Although there was no significant increase in final exam grades for male students, there was a significant 9.7% increase for female students. The most frequently reported positive feature of pair programming was that it allowed students to meet more people in the class.

    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
    Keywords: computer programming; third level; Ireland; collaborative learning; pair programming;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Computer Science
    Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 12634
    Depositing User: Rebecca Maguire
    Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2020 16:29
    Refereed: Yes
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

      Repository Staff Only(login required)

      View Item Item control page


      Downloads per month over past year

      Origin of downloads