Journal of Information Systems Education


This paper formulates a theory that investigates the possible effects of two human cognitive characteristics, on the difficulties of learning specific programming languages. The two human cognitive characteristics are Piaget’s cognitive development and McCarthy’s cognitive hemispheric style. This paper consolidates prior research and accepted cognitive theory. It then presents a formulation of a theory that relates cognitive requirements of different computer programming languages and programmers’ cognitive characteristics. If the cognitive requirements for a programming language are beyond the cognitive characteristics of a programming student, the student may burn out. If the cognitive requirements are below the student’s cognitive characteristics the student may be bored. If they are similar to them, the student is able to meet the challenges. Motivation, interest, self-esteem and success may thus be optimized. Different programming languages are more suited for different cognitive characteristics. This theory extends prior research in cognitive theory and cognitive requirements of computer programming.



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