The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
In this research we have investigated the use of a visual-based programming language at HE Stage 1 for beginner programmers. We conducted a survey of Stage 2 programming students to ascertain their retrospective views on their preparedness for text-based programming in year 2 having completed visual-based programming studies in year 1 (quantitative and qualitative data). Using whole cohort datasets from the Open University (UK) – an open entry distance learning HEI – we analysed the assessment scores of students at Stage 1 and Stage 2. Finally, we investigated the efficacy of offering a bridging course to programming students between Stages 1 and 2. We found that a majority of survey respondents did find visual-based programming prepared them well for higher level studies except for the syntax aspects of text-based programming. The assessment data, however, showed that doing badly at year 1 visual programming does not indicate that students will do badly in year 2 using text-based programming. Data analysis of the bridging course attendance showed that students who were most likely to benefit from attending did not do so, and those that did attend did not gain any immediate benefits in the Stage 2 performance. In our efforts to conduct the research for this project we found that OU student assessment data is hard to acquire. Additionally, we found that analysing student results across multiple qualifications, pathways and study rates is resource intensive.