Learning by mistakes in teaching programming through distance learning

Artur Opaliński

Despite employing various programming languages on different course majors, teaching novice programmers on technical departments is a complex issue in many countries worldwide. References have been given to the analyses of the most common programming errors encountered by students, and to the attempts to aid students in eradicating these errors. Aiding students was based each time on automatic teacher's advices to common errors, so it encompassed easing teacher's efforts as well.

One of the key skill that novice programmers have to master is to independently correct errors in code. While this is only a part of the required skills, it demands the knowledge of language syntax and testing rules as well as the understanding of code semantics and algorithm.

The author proposes in the paper a new method of teaching the skills of correcting code, which is based on correcting ready-made code samples which contain purposely-made errors. The supporting tool is the typical IDE that students use in their everyday work. In this way a controlled learning environment is created, where the number and the type of errors, as well as the error messages generated by IDE are predefined. Such an environment is much better defined that during a typical assignment where the student is supposed to write a program from scratch.

The author suggests using distance learning tools for teaching and for skills verification with the above described method. The new method has been applied to the Computer Science course taught in the Process Control and Robotics major.


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learning by mistakes; programming; distance learning; common programming errors; correcting code; IDE


Artur Opaliński

Gdańsk University of Technology

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About the article

DOI: 10.15219/em55.1107

The article is in the printed version on pages 38-44.

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A. Opaliński, Uczenie na błędach w nauczaniu programowania w systemie e-learningu, „e-mentor” 2014, nr 3 (55), s. 38-44,