Demand Factors And The Topic Of Programming Education Essay

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Very few educators within the computing field would dispute that the skill of programming is not always as easy as it seems (Jenkins, 2002). Much of the literature written on the topic of programming focuses mainly on exploring and establishing new and better ways of teaching the subject. However, as Jenkins (2002) points out, "if educators hope to teach it (programming) effectively, they must understand precisely what it is that makes learning to program so very difficult for so very many students". The point she tries to bring across is that, in trying to understand what the problem is, educators as well as researchers need to holistically analyse the topic , evaluating every aspect both internal and external that may influence the anxiety of programming amongst students.

This section of the paper looks at the Pressures / demand factors that play a role in influencing programming anxiety amongst students. According to Rogerson (2009), programming anxiety amongst students is affected by both internal and external factors. The evaluation of these factors allows the opportunity to better understand some of the pressure related barriers making programming more difficult for some students.


In examining the internal pressures, focus is placed on factors that are directly attributed to the student; in other words, these are usually factors the student has control over and no other external forces such as an institution, an educator, or a peer can alter or change them (, 2009).

The internal factors identified under this theme are [1] cognitive learning ability, [2] learner attitude, [3] self-efficacy, and [4] motivation. Although there exists many other factors, the following have been identified as being the most prominent within our research survey.

Cognitive learning Ability

Cognitive factors identified as possible predictors of programming anxiety include problem solving ability, abstract reasoning, ability to understand problems, logical ability and cognitive style (Gomes & Mendes, 2007).

A study by Gomes and Mendes (2007b) explains that one of the major reasons why students find it difficult to learn programming is because many of them "lack generic problem solving skills". This subsequently hinders students from being able to create algorithms, as they are unable to logically solve and understand the problems.

In terms of the students' logical ability, literature has shown that there exists a general positive relationship between a student's mathematical problem solving ability and successful programming (Boyle et al., 2002; McGettrick et al., 2005; Simon et al., 2006). The results from the survey differ quite substantially however from what is presented in literature. Many of the participants in our study indicated that they had a good mathematical solving ability; therefore, it is difficult to say for certain that this is one of the predictors.

One student felt that part of his anxiety was a result of feeling threatened by his/her competent classmates. While several felt that coding is hard and they will never 'get' it, thereby forming a mental block against programming. Our research shows that most students in the IS class enjoy problem solving********


The term "attitude" refers to the favourable or unfavourable feeling that students have towards the subject (Fesakis & Serafeim, 2009). A student's attitude often determines how well they able to handle difficulties experienced within the course. From the surveyed results, it was evident that a student with a positive attitude is more likely that not able to overcome their anxiety of programming. Our view on this matter is that a positive attitude often acts as a motivator for someone finding him or herself in a difficult situation. In the study conducted by Rogerson (2009), participants expressed that having the right attitude was necessary in helping to overcome their difficulties with programming.


Wilson et al. (2001) refers to the Attribution theory which looks at identifying how individuals credit their success or failure. The attribution can be made either to stable causes, such as the task difficulty or one's own ability or to unstable causes, such as luck or how much effort is required. The students who completed the surveys all seemed to be their own worse critics and often put down their programming ability before evaluating the outcome of their efforts.

With the interviews Rogerson (2009) conducted, she found that some of the students who find coding to be their biggest vice often surprise themselves when they get back results and find that they did not do as poorly as they imagined. ***not sure where to put this?****


The computing degree is associated with many negative connotations, some of which may cause many potential students to shy away from the course as it may affect their social image (Jenkins, 2002). One of the most noted connotations associated with computer programming is that it is a very difficulty course (Gomes & Mendes, 2007b). This often causes students to enter into the course with very negative perceptions that often result in increased anxiety.

It is important therefore that students are motivated. This helps to encourage them to endeavour even when things seem bleak.

"Programming students are motivated to succeed; they do not fail on purpose (Jenkins, 2001)."

The results from our survey show that students often feel encouraged to practice and understand programming when they have a fierce motivational system, this includes, motivation from family members, friends, peers, teachers and tutors.


In examining the external pressures, focus is placed on factors that are indirectly attributed to the student; in other words, these are usually factors the student has no control over and are influenced by factors such as institutions, educators, or peers (, 2009).

The external factors identified under this theme are [1] student support, which consists of support from lectures and tutors, and [2] teaching methodology.

Student Support (Lecturer/Tutor)

Teaching Methodology

In the so called 'post-industrial societies' student learning and teaching continue being the most essential activities in the ever more intricate and dexterous educational systems (Hager, 2005, p.633). When looking at the fields of Computer Science and Information Systems, there has been a great deal of apprehension regarding the learning and teaching of computer programming languages, and the deteriorating rates associated with the above mentioned subjects (Robins, Rountree & Rountree, 2003). According to the research we have conducted, more students felt that the methodology their lecturer used to teach programming in first year, second year and third year had a huge impact on the understanding they gained from the various courses. Where a few feel that the way they taught were sufficient, a higher number of students felt that their ability to grasp the fundamentals of programming was hampered by the teaching methodology used. Mead et al. (2006, p.183) acknowledge that in the last twenty five years national as well as international studies have shown that learning to program proves to be challenging to students.

Class Schedule (Time Pressure)

At tertiary education level, students usually face a heavy workload, an environment that is completely different from high school, where teachers 'spoon-fed' their students.


Hey robs it seems to be ok.

But you need to be careful not to reference too much from Justine's paper especially with her findings. We need to use our own findings.

Try to also you different references too the one's se has cause Eljse will easily see the resemblance.

Very confused about the motivation part

Also try to introduce each section as you speak about it.

Example: The cognitive ability of a student is the ability to …

I had to leave a little early cause I gotta go sign a few documents at student wellness. But I have taken you part and will give it a more thorough look tonight. Sinka will also sent his to you and you can edit and read through it.

Oh and one more thing, Please could you draw up some conclusions with regards o your section. That way it'll make it easier for us to put the essay together