Difficulties in Learning and Teaching Programming—Views of Students and Tutors
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We have conducted a web-based questionnaire on the various concepts and topics of object-oriented programming that students on introductory courses found most difficult to cope with.
A statistical analysis of our results shows that those topics that rely on a clear understanding of pointers and memory-related concepts (such as copy constructors and virtual functions) prove to be the most difficult. In other words, we believe these concepts are only hard because of the student's inability to comprehend what is happening to their program in memory, as they are incapable of creating a clear mental model of its execution.
These results would suggest that a clearer approach to teaching these topics would be beneficial to students. We are currently working on a visualization-based approach to address these issues.
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