Identifying the set of cognitive processes (CPs) a student can go through during computer programming is an interesting research problem. It can provide a better understanding of the human aspects in computer programming process and can also contribute to the computer programming education in general. The study identified the presence of a set of 42 CPs in computer programming (C language). The study used Verbal Protocol Analysis (VPA) in identifying these CPs. It is a qualitative study on the Verbal Protocols (VPs) of 19 students. Some of the CPs have been inferred by referring to the literature and some have been additionally identified by this study. The additional CPs found are confusion, hypothesis, interrogation, iteration, monitoring, recollection, recurrence, and translation. It is observed that programming involves the interplay of lower and higher CPs and needs various cognitive skills, which increase the processing load on the brain and make the programming process difficult and complex to learn and practice. The same set of CPs was found in both the effective and ineffective subjects. The research results can provide deeper knowledge to teachers on cognitive aspects of programming and the cognitive behavior of students during the programming process.
ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE) – Association for Computing Machinery
Published: Aug 1, 2010