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    Two Roads Diverge: Mapping the Path of Learning for Novice Programmers Through Large Scale Interaction Data and Neural Network Classifiers

    Culligan, Natalie (2021) Two Roads Diverge: Mapping the Path of Learning for Novice Programmers Through Large Scale Interaction Data and Neural Network Classifiers. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Learning to program is a fundamental part of Computer Science education. To become a proficient programmer, one must become competent at both code comprehension and code production. Research shows that the most effective way to teach programming to students is through practical exercises. However, the increasing numbers of students in Computer Science classes means it is difficult to correct assignments and provide timely feedback. This can result in fewer practical assignments and/or less useful feedback for each student. Automated grading tools, and understanding of how novice programmers learn to code, is essential for these growing numbers of students. The Maynooth University Learning Environment, or MULE, was built to address this challenge. MULE is a cloud-based learning environment built from the ground up with the goal of teaching introductory programming courses in an authentic manner while facilitating the collection of large-scale behavioural data to support Learning Analytics. In this thesis, behavioural interaction data and code written by students in MULE is used to investigate the differences between successful and unsuccessful programming student behaviour, with the use of data analysis and Neural Network classifiers. The result is a method of classification that predicts early on if a student is likely to be in the top or bottom 50% of grades in the class with up to 87% accuracy, and a model of the path of learning for successful students, including key times, assignments, and topics during the introduction to programming module when the higher and lower achieving students diverge in behaviour.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Mapping; Path of Learning; Novice Programmers; Large Scale Interaction Data; Neural Network Classifiers;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Computer Science
    Item ID: 15662
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2022 11:54
      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

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