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Mindstorms robots and the application of cognitive load theory in introductory programming
Computer Science Education
  • Raina Mason, Southern Cross University
  • Graham Cooper, Southern Cross University
Document Type
Publication Date
Peer Reviewed
This paper reports on a series of introductory programming workshops, initially targeting female high school students, which utilised Lego Mindstorms robots. Cognitive load theory (CLT) was applied to the instructional design of the workshops, and a controlled experiment was also conducted investigating aspects of the interface. Results indicated that a truncated interface led to better learning by novice programmers as measured by test performance by participants, as well as enhanced shifts in self-efficacy and lowered perception of difficulty. There was also a transfer effect to another programming environment (Alice). It is argued that the results indicate that for novice programmers, the mere presence on-screen of additional (redundant) entities acts as a form of tacit distraction, thus impeding learning. The utility of CLT to analyse, design and deliver aspects of computer programming environments and instructional materials is discussed.
Citation Information

Post print of: Mason, R & Cooper, G 2013, 'Mindstorms robots and the application of cognitive load theory in introductory programming', Computer Science Education, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 296-314.

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