CCSE Reading group: SIGCSE Journal Club - Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work

Issued: Mon, 02 Nov 2020 11:25:00 GMT

DATE: 2nd November 2020
TIME: 13:00-14:00
LOCATION: Quintin’s Zoom Room

When I first read this paper, it gave me a strong jolt as I realised that our principal pedagogical activity in an introductory programming class is based on minimal-guidance - we introduce very little, use few worked examples if any, and then say “go and solve these problems”.  Hence, I find the arguments quite compelling.

However, when I ask other computer scientists to read this paper, I have often found they disagree strongly with it.  Who is right, I wonder?  One aspect I find is that my fellow readers often assume the authors’ views apply to **all** instruction.  However, somewhat hidden, which is a shame, on the second column of P80, the authors refer to the expertise-reversal effect - and the indication that direct instruction is best for novices but that as one moves towards intermediate/expert, then minimal guidance becomes the best learning strategy - and this is explained with further reference to learning and the cognitive architecture which is the backbone of the paper.

We do know that many who self-select to study computer science fail to become good programmers.  Many drop out completely at an early stage; and many others remain in the programme, but try to avoid programming.  Somehow, they just don’t get it.  What has failed them?

Looking forward to the discussion on Monday…