Work in Progress: Using Second Language Acquisition Techniques to Teach Programming - Results from a Two-Year Project


This WIP paper presents two years of findings for an NSF funded project under the Research Initiation Grant in Engineering Education (RIGEE) program. The project (SLA-aBLe) is currently in the second year of implementation and assessment. Final results from the project will be presented and discussed at the annual ASEE conference. The project used second language acquisition (SLA) theory and techniques to facilitate learning in an introductory programming language class. The project was developed by a multi-disciplinary team and involved multiple instructors and sections of an introductory programming language class using MATLAB. Each semester, instructors trained in SLA techniques taught sections of both the SLA-aBLe and non-SLA-aBLe programming language course, and the performance of students in the different type of course sections was compared. Assessment of effectiveness was conducted in a scientifically rigorous and extensive manner, using multiple surveys, student grades and instructor assessment. Results from the first year of implementation indicated that students in the SLA-aBLe sections of the programming class exhibited higher end of course lab scores, exam scores and grades than students in non-SLA-aBLe sections of the same course. In addition, students in the SLA-aBLe sections reported higher levels of motivation and less frustration than students in the non-SLA-aBLe sections of the class. Perceptions of faculty competence did not differ by type of course section or across faculty teaching the class. This project is continuing into its final year of implementation during the 2016-2017 academic year. Researchers will continue to assess the course using student perceptions, and class outcomes to determine effectiveness of the program. The proposed paper will focus on presenting two years of data from the project, including discussion of the overall success of using SLA techniques in engineering education

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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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This paper was published in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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