Conducting Multi-Institutional Studies of Parsons Problems

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Many novice programmers struggle to write code from scratch and get frustrated when their code does not work. Parsons problems can reduce the difficulty of a coding problem by providing mixed-up blocks that the learner assembles in the correct order. Parsons problems can also include distractor blocks that are not needed in a correct solution, but which may help students learn to recognize and fix errors. Evidence indicates that students find Parsons problems engaging, easier than writing code from scratch, useful for learning patterns, and typically faster to solve than writing code from scratch with equivalent learning gains. This working group leverages the work of the 2022 ITiCSE working group which published an extensive literature review of Parsons problems and designed and piloted several studies based on the gaps identified by the literature review. The 2023 working group is revising, conducting, and creating new studies. We will analyze the data from these multi-institutional and multi-national studies and publish the results as well as recommendations for future working groups.
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