Planning a Multi-institutional and Multi-national Study of the Effectiveness of Parsons Problems

Conference Paper

Programming is a complex task that requires the development of many skills including knowledge of syntax, problem decomposition, algorithm development, and debugging. Code-writing activities are commonly used to help students develop these skills, but the difficulty of writing code from a blank page can overwhelm many novices. Parsons problems offer a simpler alternative to writing code by providing scrambled code blocks that must be placed in the correct order to solve a problem. The extensive literature on Parsons problems documents numerous benefits to using them as both formative and summative assessments. These include more efficient learning, the possibility to dynamically adapt to learner needs, and more reliable grading. Despite these positive findings, further research is needed in order to draw broader inferences. Most work has been conducted at single institutions under unique conditions that are not easily replicated, and some prior studies have been inconclusive or had limitations that affected data validity. To address this, we propose a multi-institutional and multi-national study of the effectiveness of Parsons problems for novice programmers. We will focus on introductory programming courses (CS0/1/2) that use Java, Python, and C/C++ as these are the most common teaching languages. The working group will collaborate to refine the scope, methodology and research questions, and contribute to data collection and analysis.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ericson, BJ; Denny, P; Prather, J; Duran, R; Hellas, A; Leinonen, J; Miller, CS; Morrison, B; Pearce, JL; Rodger, SH

Published Date

  • July 7, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 2 /

Start / End Page

  • 576 - 577

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1942-647X

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781450392006

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1145/3502717.3532172

Citation Source

  • Scopus