Journal of Information Systems Education


For most beginners, learning computer programming is a complex undertaking. Demotivation and learned helplessness have been widely reported. In addition to the subject’s complexity, low in-class involvement has been linked to poor student performance. This work introduces a novel instructional technique called Student-Driven Probe Instruction (SDPI) to address the low levels of in-class involvement in basic programming courses. The concept was straightforward: rather than the teacher lecturing/explaining material to the class and requesting questions, the students were shown a piece of code or other relevant material and given the opportunity to ask questions first. Explanations followed only after the questions had been asked, not before. Participation was tracked through two metrics: the number of questions asked in class and emails/Slack contacts with the instructor. Significant improvements were recorded for in-class participation. Average quiz scores also improved meaningfully. According to a course evaluation survey, students favored SDPI over the conventional lecture format since it piqued their interest in the material and gave them the confidence to ask questions in class.



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