Factors influencing the learning of introductory computer programing at the Durban University of Technology.
Osaji-Onalo, Kelvin Samuel.
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Computer programming is an extremely difficult skill to master for students who are novice computer programmers. The preceding assertion is based on reports of high failure rates in introductory computer programming courses offered by tertiary education institutions. This is not just a South African problem but a number of cross-institutional and multi-national studies show that the problem is well known and is common (Grover et al., 2016). The current study investigated the factors influencing the learning of introductory computer programing at Durban University of Technology (DUT). The objectives of the study were to understand the influence of previous experience on students’ learning of introductory computer programming as well as to understand the influence of self-efficacy on students’ learning of introductory computer programming. The study also focused on understanding the influence of the ‘mental model ‘representation of the problem domain on students’ learning of introductory computer programming, and to understand the influence of the ‘mental model’ representation of the problem domain on students’ self-efficacy in the learning of introductory computer programming. The study adopted the quantitative research method to investigate the subject matter. This study embraced a survey research strategy and data collection carried out was over a short period. The study used simple random sampling to select 200 respondents at DUT. Data were collected using questionnaires. Data quality control was ensured by conducting a reliability and validity test on the data collection instrument used in this study. Ethical approval for the study was obtained from DUT. The quantitative data collected were analyzed using the SPSS, version 25.0. The study utilized statistics such as frequency, descriptive (mean and standard deviation) and inferential statistics (Cronbach’s alpha and Spearman correlation). The overall findings from the study suggested that the self-efficacy level of the research participants was high. The results of the study revealed that there was a moderate positive relationship between self-efficacy and computer programming. Furthermore, it found was that the mental model adopted by students when solving computer programming problems positively influences student performance in computer programming. An outcome of the study is the recommendation that the teaching and learning of computer programming should focus on language structure and the correct mental interpretation of the problem domain so that students could improve their performance.