Considerations for Selecting a Programming Language to Teach Perspective Teachers

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Executive Summary

Academic technology programs often struggle with the selection of a programming language for entry level programming courses. An entry level programming course can serve as a launching pad for other more advanced programming courses. It sets the stage to learn more advanced programming topics. At the same time, a beginning programming course can also be taken by students from other non-technology majors. While the non-major students may not have the same interest in preparing to learn advanced programming topics, it must be taken into consideration that many students may have dissimilar backgrounds with respect to students enrolled in technology programs. Selecting a programming language that simplifies learning could help attracting more students into these courses. In addition to this, there are other Factors that influence the decision to selecting the programming language. They mainly comprise of general purpose versus beginner programming course; major only course versus service course, entire course versus selected topics, and standalone versus prerequisites. The factors that make learning to program a difficult task are mainly fragile mechanics and syntax, inability to see the result of computation as the program runs and lack of motivation to learn programming. A programming language named Alice identified these difficulty factors. It provides a visual interface that makes it easier to follow, and it cuts down on the syntax and coding.

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