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Type: Conference paper
Title: Computer science students' causal attributions for successful and unsuccessful outcomes in programming assignments
Author: Vivian, R.
Falkner, K.
Falkner, N.
Citation: Proceedings of the 13th Koli Calling International conference on computing education research, 2013 / pp.125-134
Publisher: ACM
Publisher Place: Finland
Issue Date: 2013
ISBN: 9781450324823
Conference Name: International Conference on Computing Education Research (13th : 2013 : Koli, Finland)
Statement of
Rebecca Vivian, Katrina Falkner, Nickolas Falkner
Abstract: While some students excel in introductory programming courses, others find the course to be significantly challenging and demanding. The way that students reason about the factors that contribute to success or failure may affect their self-efficacy, motivation, future success and whether or not they persist in Computer Science (CS). What factors do students' perceive to cause successful or unsuccessful learning outcomes in first-year programming assignments? Such findings can assist us in identifying causal reasoning that may be detrimental to future success and persistence. We use Attribution Theory (AT) as a framework to explore the "causal attributions" that students apply to explain their causes for success or failure in introductory programming assignments, alluded to in their reflective essays about performance in a course. Our research demonstrates that reflective essays, integrated into learning tasks, can be one effective and efficient way to extract students' casual attributions. Our results indicate that the students raised a number of causal attributions in their essays that were specific to the CS-context and were attributed to both internal and external causes. We highlight problematic areas of casual reasoning and a need to correct misleading reasoning to ensure CS students understand their control over the success of their future programming assignments. This research offers opportunities for future research to develop activities that may encourage students to correctly identify causes of performance outcomes in programming assignments and to determine if such interventions can prevent students from leaving CS.
Keywords: Attribution theory; university students; programming assignments; attributes; success; failure; self-reflection
Rights: Copyright 2013 ACM
RMID: 0020137923
DOI: 10.1145/2526968.2526982
Appears in Collections:Computer Science publications

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