Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial Education and Technology


The problem of this study was to determine what effects the use of manipulative, dynamic computer-based models had on the meaningful learning of computer programming by novices. Students who were taking a beginning computer programming course were randomly assigned to one of four groups in a two by two factorial design. The first independent variable was the use or non-use of the MemOps computer-based lesson. The purposes of MemOps were (1) to serve as a dynamic model of computer memory which could be manipulated by the learner, (2) to facilitate algorithm development, and (3) to lay a foundation for the use of arrays. The second independent variable was the use of visible or hidden memory while using MiniPas, a Pascal programming system. The purpose of MiniPas was to provide the novice programmer with a learning environment which was more transparent than the traditional programming environment. One of the unique features of MiniPas was a flow of execution trace arrow. The second unique feature of MiniPas, called visible memory, was the displaying of all variable values declared in the students' program during runtime;The criterion variables consisted of (1) "traditional" inclass examination scores, (2) whether or not students obtained workable solutions to five separate novel programming tasks, and (3) programming protocols. An ANOVA revealed no significant differences between the exam means of the two experimental groupings. Based on the results of using the Fisher's Exact Test, it was concluded that the proportion of MemOps students who obtained a workable solution to the Swap programming problem was larger than the proportion of Placebo students who obtained a solution. Although there was no significant difference for the Simple Sort problem, there was a significant difference between the proportions of the two groups in the programming methods which they employed when attempting to solve the problem;Based on the programming protocols employed by the students, numerous programming practices which are not typically used by experienced or expert programmers were observed. In general, the protocols revealed that the computer operations which were hidden from the students were the least understood; e.g., how the index is manipulated by the FOR loop control structure.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Warner Keith Smidt



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226 pages