Learning Difficulties in Computing Courses: Cognitive Processes Assessment Methods Research and Application

  • Vinicius Pessoni Universidade Federal de Goiás
  • Fernando Federson Universidade Federal de Goiás
  • Auri Vincenzi Universidade Federal de Goiás


Learning difficulties in computing courses is a situation perceived in diverse universities from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. These difficulties directly affect achievement rates and increase course evasion. We believe in the existence of a foundation of cognitive processes, that without it, even the most motivated student would have trouble to transform the received information into knowledge. This work has focused mainly on the research of candidate methods for cognitive processes assessment with a strong background theory. With this kind of information would be possible to devise cognitive interventions, in order to evolve students cognitive level, and consequently, raise their success rates. A systematic review was conducted and among the many researched methods we selected Lawson Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning – LCTSR. Authorized by its author, we conducted the first translation of LCTSR to Brazilian Portuguese and administered to students of three undergraduate computing courses: Information Systems, Computer Science and Software Engineering. We also present results of its administration that we consider important to reinforce the above suggested strategy.

Palavras-chave: Dificuldades de Aprendizagem Computacional, Desenvolvimento cognitivo, Estágio Operacional Formal, Raciocínio Científico


Arlin, P. K. 1982. A multitrait-multimethod validity study of a test of formal Reasoning. Educational and Psychological Measurement. 42 (1982), 1077 – 1088.

Ates, S. Cataloglu, E. 2007. The effects of students’ reasoning abilities on conceptual understandings and problem-solving skills in introductory mechanics. Eur. J. Phys. 28 (2007), 1161–1171.

Barrows, H. S. Problem based learning in medicine and ‐ beyond: A brief overview. New directions for teaching and learning. 68 (1996), 3-12.

Bart, W. M. 1972. Construction and Validation of Formal Reasoning Instruments. Psychological Reports, 30 (1972), 663 – 670.

Beaton, D. E. et al. Guidelines for the Process of CrossCultural Adaptation of Self-Report Measures. SPINE 25, 24. (2000), 3186 –3191.

Bergin, S. Reilly, R. 2005. Programming: factors that influence success. In Proceedings of the 36th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education (SIGCSE '05). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 411-415.

Bond, T. G. 1976. BLOT: Bond's Logical Operations Test. Townsville, Australia. James Cook University.

Bond, T. G. Piaget and measurement I: The twain really do meet. Archives de Psychologie. 63, 245 (1995), 71-87.

Briggs, M. I. McCaulley, M. H. Quenk, N. Hammer, A. 1998. MBTI Handbook: A Guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Consulting (3rd edition). Psychologists Press.

Burney, G. M. 1974. The construction and validation of an objective formal reasoning instrument. Thesis. Division of Arts and Science., Uni. of Northern Colorado., Greeley., CO.

Byrne, J. H. Ph.D. 2014. Neuroscience Online. Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The UT Medical School at Houston. Retrieved September 4, 2014 from http://neuroscience.uth.tmc.edu/

Carlson, G. R. Streitberger, E. 1983. The Construction and Comparison of Three Related Tests of Formal Reasoning. Science Education. 67, 1 (1983), 133-140.

Carter, K. R. Ormrod, J. E. 1983. The Social Sciences Piagetian Inventory (rev. edn.). Uni. of Northem Colorado, Dep. Ed. Psychology. Greeley, CO.

Crouch, C. H. Mazur, E. 2001. Peer instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics. 69, 9 (2001), 970-977.

Digiampietri, A. L. 2012. Complementando o Aprendizado em Programação: Experiências no Curso de Sistemas de Informacao da USP. In VIII Simpósio Brasileiro de Sistemas de Informação (São Paulo, SP, Brazil 2012). SBSI, 468-479.

Eckstein, S. G. and M. Shemesh. 1992. The rate of acquisition of formal operational schemata in adolescence: A secondary analysis. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 29, 5 (1992), 441-451.

Felder, R. M. Soloman, B. A. 2014. Learning styles and strategies. North Carolina State University. Retrieved September 4, 2014 from http://www. ncsu. edu/felderpublic/ILSdir/styles.htm

Felder, R. M. Spurlin, J. 2005. Applications, reliability and validity of the index of learning styles. International journal of engineering education 21, 1 (2005), 103-112.

Furth, H. 1970. An Inventory of Piaget's Developmental Tasks. Thesis. Dept. of Psychology, Catholic Univ, Washington, DC.

Han, J. 2013. Scientific Reasoning: Research, Development, and Assessment. Doctoral Thesis. School of The Ohio State University. Columbus, OH.

Hmelo-Silver, C. E. 2004. Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn?. Educational Psychology Review. 16, 3 (2004), 235-266.

Hollander, M. Wolfe, D. A. Chicken, E. 2013. Nonparametric statistical methods (2nd. ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Danvers, MA.

Honzel, B. 2012. The Effects of an Inquiry Based Data to Concept Curriculum. Thesis. Montana State University.

Inhelder, B. Piaget, J. 1958. The Growth of Logical Thinking From Childhood to Adolescence. Basic Books Inc, New York, NY.

Ippolito, K. O. 2012. Cognitive development and the attainment of critical thinking skills in associate degree nursing students. Thesis. University of the Pacific Stockton, CA.

Kalat, J. W. 2008. Nature, Nurture, and Human Development. In Introduction To Psychology (8th. ed.). ch. 5, sec. 5.2, pp. 163 – 181. Thomson Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.

Kayes, D. C. 1999. Internal validity and reliability of Kolb’s learning style inventory version 3. Journal of Business and Psychology. 20, 2 (Winter 2005), 249-257.

Kinnunen, P. Meisalo, V. Malmi, L. 2010. Have we missed something?: identifying missing types of research in computing education. In Proceedings of the Sixth Int. Workshop on Computing education research (New York, NY, USA 2010). ICER '10. ACM, New York, NY, 13-22.

Kitchenham, B. et al. 2007. Guidelines for performing Systematic Literature Reviews in Software Engineering. Technical Report. School of Computer Science and Mathematics at Keele University. Department of Computer Science at University of Durham. Durham, UK.

Kolb, D. A.1984. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. (Vol. 1). Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Krathwohl, D. R. 2012.A revision of Bloom's taxonomy: An overview. Theory Into Practice. Routledge. 41, 4 (Aut. 2002), 212–218.

Kuhn, D. 2008. Formal Operations from a Twenty-First Century Perspective. Human Dev., 51, 1(2008), 48–55.

Kurtz, B. L. 1980. Investigating the relationship between the development of abstract reasoning and performance in an introductory programming class. In Proceedings of the eleventh SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education. ACM. Kansas City, Missouri, USA. 110-117.

Lawson, A. 1978. The Development and Validation of a Classroom Test of Formal Reasoning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 15 (1978), 11 – 24.

Lawson, A. 2010. Teaching Inquiry Science in Middle and Secondary Schools. Sage, Publications, Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA.

Lawson, A. E, et al. 2000. What kinds of scientific concepts exist? Concept construction and intellectual development in college biology. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 37, 9 (2000), 996-1018.

Lawson, A. E. 2000. Lawson Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning. Personal Communication. E-mail received from the author Feb. 2014.

Lawson, A. E. 2004. The nature and development of scientific reasoning: A synthetic view. Int. Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. 2, 3 (2004), 307-338.

Lawson, A. E. Keys to Lawson Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning, 2000 version. Personal Communication. E-mail received from the author Feb. 2014.

Lawson, Anton. E. 2003. The neurological basis of learning, development and discovery: Implications for science and mathematics instruction. Springer, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Lippman, J. 2012. Improving and predicting novice reasoning about the evidentiary connection between studies and theories. Doctoral Thesis. US, ProQuest Information & Learning. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Logan, R. A. 1991. Relationships between the Arlin Test of Formal Reasoning and Classroom Multiple Choice. Thesis. Emporia State University.

Longeot, F. 1966. L'échelle de développement de la pensée logique. BINOP, Paris.

Lunzer, E. A. 1965. Problems of Formal Reasoning in test situations. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. 30, 2 (1965), 19 – 46.

Malmi, L. et al. 2014. Theoretical underpinnings of computing education research: what is the evidence?. In Proceedings of the tenth annual conference on International computing education research. (Glasgow, Scotland, Aug 2014). ICER '14. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 27-34.

Malmi, L. Sheard, J. Simon, Bednarik, R. Helminen, J. Korhonen, A. Myller, N. Sorva, J. Taherkhani, A. 2010.
Characterizing research in computing education: a preliminary analysis of the literature. In Proc. of the Sixth Int. workshop on Computing education research (Aarhus, Denmark 2010). ICER '10. ACM, New York, NY, 3-12.

Manhães, M. B. L. et al. 2012. Identificação dos Fatores que Influenciam a Evasão em Cursos de Graduação Através de Sistemas Baseados em Mineração de Dados: Uma Abordagem Quantitativa. In VIII Simpósio Brasileiro de Sis. de Informação SBSI (São Paulo, SP 2012), SBC, 468-479.

Mazur, E. 1997. Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Mozzachiodi, R. Byrne, J. H. 2010. More than synaptic plasticity: role of nonsynaptic plasticity in learning and memory. Trends in neurosciences. 33, 1 (Jan. 2010), 17-26.

Parham, J. R. 2003. An assessment and evaluation of computer science education. J. Comput. Sci. Coll. 19, 2 (December 2003), 115-127.

Pears, A. Malmi, L. 2009. Values and objectives in computing education research. ACM Trans. Comput. Educ. 9, 3, Article 15 (September 2009), 6 pages.

Pears, A. Seidman, S. Malmi, L, et al. 2007. A survey of literature on the teaching of introductory programming. In Working group reports on ITiCSE on Innovation and technology in computer science education (2007). ITiCSEWGR '07. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 204-223.

Piaget, J. 1957. Logic and Psychology. New York: Basic Books Inc, New York, NY.

Randolph, J. J. 2007. Computer Science Education Research at the Crossroads: A Methodological Review of Computer Science Education Research: 2000-2005. Doctoral Thesis. Utah State University. Logan, UT.
Raven, R. J. 1973. The Development of a Test of Piaget's Logical Operations. Science Education, 57,3 (Jul/Sep 1973) 377 – 385.

Roadrangka,V. 1985. The construction and validation of the group assessment of logical thinking (GALT). Thesis, Uni. Of Georgia, Athens, GA.

Roberge, J. J. Flexer, B. K. 1982. The Formal Operational Reasoning Test. The Journal of General Psychology. 106, 1 (1982), 61-67.

Rowell, J. A. Hoffman, P. J. 1957. Group tests for distinguishing formal from concrete thinkers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 12 (1975), 157 – 164.

Russel, H. 1962. The Measurement of Reasoning Ability in Adolescents. Ontario Journal of Educational Research. 5, 1(1962), 33 – 40.

Shayer, M. Adey, P. Wylam, H. 1981. Group Tests of Cognitive Development Ideals and a Realization. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 18, 2 (1981), 157 – 168.

Simons, D.J. Chabris, C.F. 2011. What people believe about how memory works: A representative survey of the US population. PloS one. 6,8, e22757 (Aug. 2011).

Sousa, V. D. Rojjanasrirat, W. 2011. Translation, adaptation and validation of instruments or scales for use in crosscultural health care research: a clear and user-friendly guideline. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. 17 (2011), 268–274.

Tisher, R. P. 1971. A Piagetian questionnaire applied to pupils in a secondary school. Child Development. 42, 5 (Nov 1971), 1633 – 1636.

Tobin, K. G. Capie, W. 1981. The Test of Logical Thinking (TOLT): The Development and Validation of a Group Test of Logical Thinking. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 41, 2 (Jul 1981), 413 – 423.

Tomlinson-Keasey, C. 1976. Can we develop abstract thought in college freshmen? 84th Annual American Psychological Association Conv. (1976). Washington, D.C.

Veenman, M. V. J. Van Hout-Wolters, B. H. A. M. Afflerbach, P. 2006. Metacognition and learning: Conceptual and methodological considerations. Metacognition and learning. 1, 1 (Apr. 2006), 3–14.
Como Citar

Selecione um Formato
PESSONI, Vinicius; FEDERSON, Fernando; VINCENZI, Auri. Learning Difficulties in Computing Courses: Cognitive Processes Assessment Methods Research and Application. In: SIMPÓSIO BRASILEIRO DE SISTEMAS DE INFORMAÇÃO (SBSI), 11. , 2015, Goiânia. Anais [...]. Porto Alegre: Sociedade Brasileira de Computação, 2015 . p. 31-38. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5753/sbsi.2015.5798.