Learning about Software Development - Should Programming Always Come First?

Hamilton, M. and Haywood, L.

    The issues surrounding curriculum design of many Computer Science and Software Engineering degree programs1 are many and complex. In particular, the question of whether prior programming knowledge has any bearing on a student's success in learning and applying techniques for Software Analysis and Design is largely unresolved. We undertook this study because as part of the continuous development of our degree programs, curriculum changes are always on the agenda. Anecdotal evidence suggested that students who had some programming experience were better equipped to perform Software Analysis and Design activities, especially low-level program design. We surveyed a cohort of students to discover their prior programming experience and their perceptions of the advantage such experience gave them when undertaking a Software development project. We also considered the students' success in an introductory Software Engineering course (i.e. their final result) against their programming experience. The results indicate that prior programming experience is not necessary for a student's success in a course that expects them to undertake analysis and design activities for a large-scale software product.
Cite as: Hamilton, M. and Haywood, L. (2004). Learning about Software Development - Should Programming Always Come First?. In Proc. Sixth Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE2004), Dunedin, New Zealand. CRPIT, 30. Lister, R. and Young, A. L., Eds. ACS. 131-136.
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