Programming lessons and resources should:
Based on research and experience
The Craig’n’Dave approach to teaching programming is revolutionary. Not because it is a new pedagogy, but because it is the first set of resources to truly unify the proven pedagogies for teaching programming effectively. Wrapped into one scheme of learning for teaching and learning the fundamentals of programming in Python and C#, our resources are deeply rooted in the methodologies proposed by:
Learning to program takes T.I.M.E.
Our students learn programming independently. Working through a set of ten objectives at their own pace means that no student is left behind and no student is waiting for others to catch up. There is no need for students to listen to their teacher talking about programming, the best learning happens by doing, not listening! Students self-select differentiated problems to tackle that allow them to consolidate their understanding or challenge themselves further. Each objective has four stages.
Students look at a coded solution and predict what the output will be. Students type in the code to see if they are correct. This approach aims to simulate how self-taught programmers in the 1980s used code listings in magazines and programming manuals to learn to code. Not starting from a blank screen is less daunting for students, provides models and guides student practice.
Students learn how the sample programs work, understanding the new commands introduced. A set of small tasks instruct students to modify the sample programs they have been given. At the end of the stage keywords and learning points are summarised as a handy reference. The syntax of related additional commands is also presented that were not needed in the sample programs but could be useful to students when writing their own programs. These also include all the commands listed in examination board specifications.
A set of progressive comprehension questions also provide students with an opportunity to consider what terms mean, what commands or blocks of code achieve, how they work and why they are used. A deeper knowledge of syntax and programming constructs allows students to adapt to new commands more easily. This is based on a simplified student-friendly version of the block model of program comprehension proposed by Carsten Schulte.
Problems to solve independently are presented in a mixture of written English, flowcharts, pseudocode, Parsons problems and output focused. Problems increase in difficulty indicated by the number of points associated with each problem. Each objective includes three 1-point problems, three 2-point problems and three 3-point problems. There are so many problems to attempt that students will not have enough time to complete them all so they can take ownership of their learning and select which ones to solve for themsleves. There is a clear focus on consolidation, progress, stretch and challenge. Students are encouraged to use whitespace, indentation, sensible variable names, and subroutines from their very first program.
Objectives will frequently require students to create and use test tables to test their solutions to the problems. This encourages good practice and teaches the importance of robust code. Once students have finished an objective, teachers have oral feedback conversations reflecting on the problems attempted. Using our feedback framework to structure conversations on comprehension, maintainability, scalability, robustness and approach taken.