Assessing How Pre-requisite Skills Affect Learning of Advanced Concepts

Greg L. Nelson, Filip Strömbäck, Ari Korhonen, Ibrahim Albluwi, Marjahan Begum, Ben Blamey, Karen H. Jin, Violetta Lonati, Bonnie MacKellar, Mattia Monga

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Students often struggle with advanced computing courses, and comparatively few studies have looked into the reasons for this. It seems that learners do not master the most basic concepts, or forget them between courses. If so, remedial practice could improve learning, but instructors rightly will not use scarce time for this without strong evidence. Based on personal observation, program tracing seems to be an important pre-requisite skill, but there is yet little research that provides evidence for this observation. To investigate this, our group will create theory-based assessments on how tracing knowledge affects learning of advanced topics, such as data structures, algorithms, and concurrency. This working group will identify relevant concepts in advanced courses, then conceptually analyze their pre-requisites and where an imagined student with some tracing difficulties would encounter barriers. The group will use this theory to create instructor-usable assessments for advanced topics that also identify issues caused by poor pre-requisite knowledge. These assessments may then be used at the start and end of advanced courses to evaluate to what extent students' difficulties with the advanced course originate from poor pre-requisite knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ITiCSE '20: 2020 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education0
EditorsMichail N. Giannakos, Guttorm Sindre, Andrew Luxton-Reilly, Monica Divitini
Number of pages2
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2020
Article number160611
ISBN (Electronic)9781450368742
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event25th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. ITiSE 2020 [Virtual Format] - Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
Duration: 17 Jun 202018 Jun 2020
Conference number: 25


Conference25th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. ITiSE 2020 [Virtual Format]
LocationNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Internet address

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