Effect of Pascal and FORTRAN programming instruction on the problem-solving cognitive ability in formal operational stage students
Choi, Won Sik
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The major purposes of this study were: (a) to determine if learning to program a computer in either Pascal or FORTRAN improves the problem-solving skills of students (college level), who are at the formal operational stage, when compared to a control group of students also at the formal operational stage, and (b) to determine if learning to program a computer in Pascal is more effective than learning to program a computer in FORTRAN in the development of problem-solving abilities. Subjects were 58 college students from regular 1990 fall semester classes at Texas Tech University. Subjects in the Pascal-treatment group received 15 weeks (41 in-class hours, plus approximately 70 more hours of out-of-class programming activities) of computer programming instruction. Subjects in the FORTRAN treatment group received the same amount of instruction. A 61-item problem-solving instrument (two sections from the Ross Test of Higher Cognitive Processes and two sections from the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal) was used as the pretest and posttest measure, and data were analyzed using analysis of covariance. Results indicated that learning to program in Pascal or FORTRAN does significantly improve problem-solving abilities of formal operational stage students, as measured by the instrument used, when compared to a group that receives no programming instruction. However, there was no significant difference between the Pascal group and the FORTRAN group.