Date of Award

Fall 1997

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Sciences - (Ph.D.)

Department

Computer and Information Science

First Advisor

James A. McHugh

Second Advisor

Starr Roxanne Hiltz

Third Advisor

Michael G. Hinchey

Fourth Advisor

Peter A. Ng

Fifth Advisor

Wilhelm Rossak

Sixth Advisor

Murray Turoff

Seventh Advisor

Thomas J. Marlowe

Eighth Advisor

Howard S. Kimmel

Ninth Advisor

Naomi G. Rotter

Abstract

A framework for an integrated problem solving and program development environment that addresses the needs of students learning programming is proposed. Several objectives have been accomplished: defining the tasks required for program development and a literature review to determine the actual difficulties involved in learning those tasks. A comprehensive Study of environments and tools developed to support the learning of problem solving and programming was then performed, covering programming environments, debugging aids, intelligent tutoring systems, and intelligent programming environments. This was followed by a careful analysis and critique of these systems, which uncovered the limitations that have prevented them from accomplishing their goals.

Next, an extensive study of problem solving methodologies developed in this century was carried out and a common model for problem solving was produced. The tasks of program development were then integrated with the common model for problem solving. Then, the cognitive activities required for problem solving and program development were identified and also integrated with the common model to form a Dual Common Model for problem Solving and Program Development. This dual common model was then used to define the functional specifications for a problem solving and program development environment which was designed, implemented, tested, and integrated into the curriculum.

The development of the new environment for learning problem solving and programming was followed by the planning of a cognitively oriented assessment method and the development of related instruments to evaluate the process and the product of problem solving. A detailed statistical experiment to study the effect of this environment on students' problem solving and program development skills, including system testing by protocol analysis, and performance evaluation of students based on research hypotheses and questions, was also designed, implemented and the result reported.

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