Voluntary participation in discussion forums as an engagement indicator: an empirical study of teaching first-year programming

Ritu Sharma, Haifeng Shen, Dr. Robert Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


omputer programming is a required skill for most STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students. However, teaching novices programming has long been considered a big challenge by computer science educators as manifested by the observation that first-year programming topics tend to have a higher failure rate than other first-year topics. Existing studies have discovered that lack of engagement in learning programming is a key determinant of a student's poor performance. Therefore, it is beneficial to perceive a student's lack of engagement so that appropriate actions can be taken ahead of time. However, first year topics especially programming topics usually have very large enrolments, making it hard for a lecturer to keep track of each individual student's engagement level. As learning management systems (LMS) have been widely adopted by universities, in this paper we suggest using a student's voluntary participation in a programming topic's discussion forum provided by LMS as an engagement indicator so that the lecturer can constantly monitor and re-engage those who present low or no engagement. This recommendation is based on an empirical study of a first-year programming topic that reveals a positive correlation between one's voluntary participation in peer interaction through the topic's discussion forum and one's learning outcome in the topic.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction: 16th - , Australia
Duration: 1 Nov 20164 Nov 2016


ConferenceAustralian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction
Abbreviated titleOZCHI '16


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