The impact of the Alice curriculum on community college students' attitudes and learning with respect to computer science

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Conference Proceeding

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The Alice software is a three dimensional programming environment that is freely distributed through Carnegie Mellon University. Novice programmers can use the Alice software to create virtual worlds that consist of objects, or characters that interact on screen in a manner that is defined by the user. Users create these virtual worlds in Alice via a drag-drop editor, eliminating the frustration of syntax errors for beginning programmers. The Alice curriculum has been developed as a one-semester, introductory computer science curriculum that uses the Alice software to introduce students to programming. This curriculum was implemented and tested in three community colleges over three academic semesters. During this period, treatment data were collected in classrooms that implemented the Alice curriculum, and control data were collected in classrooms that used traditional programming languages as a first year computer science course. These data measured students' attitudes toward and learning with respect to programming. Based on the results of this investigation, students' attitudes with respect to computer science did not appear to be impacted either positively or negatively by the use of the Alice curriculum. However, students in the treatment classrooms did display greater gains in their programming knowledge when compared to students in the control classrooms. This improvement was more pronounced for men than for women, and this finding was consistent across the three semesters. This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (DUE-03020542). © American Society for Engineering Education, 2008. 1

Publication Name

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

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