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The code is lava: Improving children's debugging skills with explicit instruction

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
The debugging strategies of nine elementary students were investigated during an eight-week Python programming course which integrated explicit debugging instruction. A verbal think-aloud protocol was used to document the strategies students used to solve debugging challenges. Analysis of the data involved content coding that combined codes derived from Vessey (1984) with inductively-developed codes necessary to cover the data. Three groups of students were identified. The first group adopted the explicit debugging strategies taught in the course and used them successfully but exhibited signs of excessive cognitive load. The second group used the strategies sparingly, and instead relied on their own expert-like strategies. The third group did not use the taught strategies, did not understand their role, and ultimately gave up during the final challenge. The findings of the study suggest that students who adopted the explicit debugging strategies were successful but appear to require additional practice to master them.
188 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Kevin, O'Neill, D.
Member of collection
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