The relationship of heuristic instruction to computer based problem-solving performance
Ekstrom, John E.
MetadataShow full item record
This study investigated the relationship between an instructional pedagogy formulated around Polya's heuristic four-step method and computer based problem solving performance in an introduction to computer programming course. A four step heuristic managerial guide, employing structured walkthroughs and group activities, was developed to direct students into a period of constructive reflection, planning, and refinement supporting structured programming. The subjects consisted of fifty-four secondary school seniors, completing a first course in BASIC programming, evenly divided into an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group received instruction related to the heuristic managerial guide. The control group received instruction similar to what was normally provided them without the guide. Four problems were introduced and analyzed, within a lecture format, followed by a question-answer session. Each subject attempted to complete a problem-set consisting of a problem and three related extensions. After a week, results were evaluated and scores from zero to four were assigned based on the number of correct solutions attained. No qualitative evaluation was performed. The null hypothesis stated that the two sets of scores came from populations having identical distributions. Since a normal distribution was questionable, the statistic used was the Mann-Whitney U test, a nonparametric version of the t-test for independent samples. The ranked scores for the two groups appeared to support the research hypothesis, since the sum of ranked scores for the experimental group exceeded those of the control group 840 to 645. However, the results of the Mann-Whitney test did not support a rejection of the null hypothesis at the 5% level of significance. The value, z = 1.791, was sufficient to support the rejection of the null hypothesis at the 7% level. Therefore, the heuristic managerial guide showed a tendency to positively contribute to student performance on the problem set used in the study. The conclusion drawn was that the heuristic managerial guide yielded encouraging, but not significant, results when applied to a computer based problem set. Further research into this approach should consider the effects of the method if implemented at the inception of the students' first course.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston UniversityPLEASE NOTE: Boston University Libraries did not receive an Authorization To Manage form for this thesis or dissertation. It is therefore not openly accessible, though it may be available by request. If you are the author or principal advisor of this work and would like to request open access for it, please contact us at email@example.com. Thank you.