Approach to Develop a Concept Inventory Informing Teachers of Novice Programmers' Mental Models

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This Research Full Paper proposes an approach for developing and administering a concept inventory (CI). Based on misconceptions, the CI should allow the identification of mental models, but more importantly, the visualization of the evolution of these mental models - from intuitive to correct mental models - over a given period of teaching time. This approach is illustrated by the development of three questionnaires, each focusing on a basic programming concept: Variables, conditional statements, and functions. Its main steps are: Identifying topics and students' misconceptions, creating questions that reflect these misconceptions, administering questions to students, and selecting most relevant questions to become part of the CI. The research was conducted over four years with four groups of students, as part of an introductory programming course. During the first year, an ethnographic approach was applied to define the problematic topics and identify the misconceptions of the students. From the second to the fourth year, each year and for one semester, students were assessed longitudinally, according to a specific schedule. The developed questionnaires were iterated three times and administered to more than 250 students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2020 - Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-8961-1
ISBN (Print)9781728189611
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020
EventIEEE Frontiers in Education Conference - FIE2020 - Uppsala, Sweden
Duration: 21 Oct 202024 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


ConferenceIEEE Frontiers in Education Conference - FIE2020


  • Assessment
  • CS1
  • Methodology
  • Misconceptions
  • Misunderstanding
  • Perceptions
  • Questionnaire


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