The Karate Kid Method of Problem Based Learning



The traditional introduction to computer programming course delivers lectures that meticulously describe language components and the way they work combined with homework and laboratory drills. The challenge of teaching introductory programming courses is: the students do not know enough to work on interesting and challenging projects. As a result, they are assigned small structured (toy) problems that do not engage their curiosity and allow them to try on their own. This results in little motivation and poor learning. Large numbers of students fail, drop, or complete courses without learning to program. In contrast, this introductory class enables students to learn programming languages by designing and implementing a computer game. Two obstacles must be overcome to make this work. The first is the students’ anxiety when faced with a complex task they cannot do. The second issue is the menial and tedious practices they must undergo to master the tools required by the task. Imbedding structured problems within the requirements of a complex unstructured project helps resolve these issues. We describe this version of PBL using the pedagogical metaphor of the popular movie, the Karate Kid.


Computer Game Teaching Assistant Computer Language Final Project Introductory Programming 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Information Sciences and TechnologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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