Self-regulated Learning in Computer Programming: Strategies Students Adopted During an Assignment

  • Daniela PedrosaEmail author
  • José Cravino
  • Leonel Morgado
  • Carlos Barreira
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 621)


The SimProgramming teaching approach has the goal to help students overcome their learning difficulties in the transition from entry-level to advanced computer programming and prepare them for real-world labour environments, adopting learning strategies. It immerses learners in a business-like learning environment, where students develop a problem-based learning activity with a specific set of tasks, one of which is filling weekly individual forms.

We conducted thematic analysis of 401 weekly forms, to identify the students’ strategies for self-regulation of learning during assignment. The students are adopting different strategies in each phase of the approach. The early phases are devoted to organization and planning, later phases focus on applying theoretical knowledge and hands-on programming. Based on the results, we recommend the development of educational practices to help students conduct self-reflection of their performance during tasks.


Self-regulation learning Computer programming Self-regulated learning strategies 



Pedrosa, D. wishes to thank the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal, for Ph.D. Grant SFRH/BD/87815/2012.

This work was partly financed by the ERDF – European Regional Development Fund through the Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation - COMPETE 2020 Programme within project «POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006961», and by National Funds through the FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) as part of project «UID/EEA/50014/2013».

We would like to thank all the students and teachers who collaborated on this research.


  1. 1.
    Lahtinen, E., Ala-Mutka, K., Järvinen, H.M.: A study of the difficulties of novice programmers. ACM SIGCSE Bull. 37(3), 14–18 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gomes, A., Mendes, A.J.: Learning to program-difficulties and solutions. In: International Conference on Engineering Education–ICEE, Coimbra, Portugal (2007)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Morgado, L., Fonseca, B., Martins, P., Paredes, H., Cruz, G., Maia, A.M., Nunes, R., Santos, A.: Social networks, microblogging, virtual worlds, and web 2.0 in the teaching of programing techniques for software engineering: a trial combining collaboration and social interaction beyond college. In: Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), pp. 1–7. IEEE (2012)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nunes, R.R., Pedrosa, D., Fonseca, B., Paredes, H., Cravino, J., Morgado, L., Martins, P.: Enhancing students’ motivation to learn software engineering programming techniques: a collaborative and social interaction approach. In: Antona, M., Stephanidis, C. (eds.) UAHCI 2015. LNCS, vol. 9177, pp. 189–201. Springer, Heidelberg (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kumar, B.: Gamification in education-learn computer programming with fun. Int. J. Comput. Distrib. Syst. 2(1), 46–53 (2012)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sancho, P., Moreno-Ger, P., Fuentes-Fernández, R., Fernández-Manjón, B.: Adaptive role playing games: an immersive approach for problem based learning. Educ. Technol. Soc. 12(4), 110–124 (2009)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Curry, E., Grace, P.: Flexible self-management using the model-view-controller pattern. IEEE Softw. 25(3), 84–90 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cagiltay, N.E.: Teaching software engineering by means of computer-game development: challenges and opportunities. BJET 38(3), 405–415 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jenkins, T.: On the difficulty of learning to program. In: Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Conference of the LTSN Centre for Information and Computer Sciences, vol. 4, pp. 53–58 (2002)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fernández, E., Bernardo, A., Suárez, N., Cerezo, R., Núñez, J.C., Rosário, P.: Predicción del uso de estrategias de autorregulación en educación superior. Anales de Psicología 29(3), 865–875 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Broadbent, J., Poon, W.L.: Self-regulated learning strategies & academic achievement in online higher education learning environments: a systematic review. Internet High. Educ. 27, 1–13 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Zimmerman, B.J.: Investigating self-regulation and motivation: historical background, methodological developments, and future prospects. Am. Educ. Res. J. 45(1), 166–183 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cazan, A.M.: Teaching self regulated learning strategies for psychology students. Procedia-Soc. Behav. Sci. 78, 743–747 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bergin, S., Ronan R., Desmond, T.: Examining the role of self-regulated learning on introductory programming performance. In: Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Computing Education Research. ACM (2005)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Alharbi, A., Paul, D., Henskens, F., Hannaford, M.: An investigation into the learning styles and self-regulated learning strategies for computer science students. In: Proceedings of Ascilite (2011)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pedrosa, D., Cravino, J., Morgado, L., Barreira, C., Nunes, R.R., Martins, P., Paredes, H.: Simprogramming: the development of an integrated teaching approach for computer programming in higher education. To Appear in Proceedings 10th Annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED 2016), Valencia, Spain (2016)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Räisänen, M., Postareff, L., Lindblom-Ylänne, S.: University students’ self- and co-regulation of learning and processes of understanding: a person oriented approach. Learn. Individ. Differ. (2016).
  18. 18.
    Hadwin, A.F., Järvelä, S., Miller, M.: Self-regulated, co-regulated, and socially shared regulation of learning. In: Zimmerman, B.J., Schunk, D.H. (eds.) Handbook of Selfregulation of Learning and Performance, pp. 65–84. Routledge, New York (2011)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pintrich, P.R.: A conceptual framework for assessing motivation and self-regulated learning in college students. Educ. Psychol. Rev. 16(4), 385–407 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zimmerman, B.J., Schunk, D.H.: Self-regulated learning and performance. An introduction and an overview. In: Zimmerman, B.J., Schunk, D.H. (eds.) Handbook of Self-regulation of Learning and Performance, pp. 1–12. Routledge, New York (2011)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zimmerman, B.J.: From cognitive modeling to self-regulation: a social cognitive career path. Educ. Psychol. 48(3), 135–147 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Clark, I.: Formative assessment: assessment is for self-regulated learning. Educa. Psychol. Rev. 24(2), 205–249 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nicol, D.J., Macfarlane-Dick, D.: Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Stud. High. Educ. 31(2), 199–218 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wang, C.H., Shannon, D., Ross, M.: Students’ characteristics, self-regulated learning, technology self-efficacy, and course outcomes in online learning. Distance Educ. 34(3), 302–323 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hattie, J., Timperley, H.: The power of feedback. Rev. Educ. Res. 77(1), 81–112 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Johri, A., Olds, B.M.: Situated engineering learning: bridging engineering education research and the learning sciences. J. Eng. Educ. 100(1), 151–185 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Duderstadt, J.J.: Engineering for a changing world. In: Grasso, D., Burkins, M.B. (eds.) Holistic Engineering Education, pp. 17–35. Springer, New York (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sheppard, S.D., Macatangay, K., Colby, A., Sullivan, W.M.: Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field, vol. 2. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco (2008)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Adams, R., Evangelou, D., English, L., De Figueiredo, A.D., Mousoulides, N., Pawley, A.L., Schiefellite, C., Stevens, R., Svinicki, M., Trenor, J.M., Wilson, D.M.: Multiple perspectives on engaging future engineers. J. Eng. Educ. 100, 48–88 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Bransford, J., Brown, A., Cocking, R. (eds.): How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. NRC, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. (2000)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Duarte, M.O., Oliveira, I., Félix, H., Carrilho, D., Pereira, A., Direito, I.: Active classrooms: role-playing experience in telecommunications engineering education. Int. J. Eng. Educ. 27(3), 604–609 (2011)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Savery, J.R.: Overview of problem-based learning: definitions and distinctions. In: Walker, A., Leary, H., Hmelo-Silver, C., Ertmer, P. (eds).: Essential Readings in Problem-Based Learning, pp. 5–16. Purdue University Press, Indiana (2015)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Schwaber, K.: Agile Project Management with Scrum. Microsoft Press, Redmond (2004)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Krasner, G., Pope, S.: A description of the model view controller paradigm in the small-talk-80 system. J. Object Oriented Program. 1(3), 26–49 (1988)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kirkwood, A., Price, L.: Technology-enhanced learning and teaching in higher education: what is ‘enhanced’ and how do we know? A critical literature review. Learn. Media Technol. 39(1), 6–36 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Barbosa, L., Alves, P., Barroso, J.: SIDE - teaching support information system. In: 6th Iberian Conference on Information Systems and Technologies (CISTI), pp. 1–6. IEEE (2011)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Pedrosa, D., Cravino, J., Morgado, L., Barreira, C.: Self-regulated learning in higher education: strategies adopted by computer programming students. To Appear in Proceedings of 8th International Symposium on Project Approaches in Engineering Education (PAEE), Guimarães, Portugal (2016b, in press)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Braun, V., Clarke, V.: Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual. Res. Psychol. 3(2), 77–101 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniela Pedrosa
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • José Cravino
    • 1
    • 2
  • Leonel Morgado
    • 3
    • 4
  • Carlos Barreira
    • 5
  1. 1.Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD)Vila RealPortugal
  2. 2.Research Centre “Didactics and Technology in Education of Trainers”AveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Universidade AbertaCoimbraPortugal
  4. 4.INESC TECPortoPortugal
  5. 5.Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências da Educação da Universidade de CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

Personalised recommendations