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Traditional versus hardware-driven introductory programming courses: A comparison of student identity, efficacy and success

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2017
Publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventASEE Annual Conference and Exposition -
Duration: 1 Jan 2000 → …

Publication series

ISSN (Print)2153-5965


ConferenceASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Period1/01/00 → …


This paper compares an innovative approach to teaching an introductory C programming course to a traditional C programming course for electrical engineering students. Students who pass either course must subsequently take a traditional intermediate C programming course. The novel course utilizes hardware-based projects to motivate students to master language syntax and implement key programming concepts and best practices. In addition to comparing the attitudes and self-perceptions of the students in each of the introductory courses, we also look at success rates for each cohort in the intermediate programming class as well as their progress toward their degrees. The electrical engineering students who took either introductory class on average had identical GPAs. However, students who took the novel introductory C course did somewhat better than the other cohort in the intermediate traditional class. Furthermore, after students took the novel course, they were more likely to feel that they fit in as electrical engineers and less likely to believe that programming was "not real engineering." This increase spanned a number of subgroups within the course, including students from underserved populations. Additional results, a synopsis of the two introductory courses, and a description of a technology-driven intermediate programming course are presented and discussed in this paper.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland