Novice programmers must master two skills to show lasting success: writing code and, when that fails, the ability to debug it. Instructors spend much time teaching the details of writing code but debugging gets significantly less attention. But what if teaching debugging could implicitly teach other aspects of coding better than teaching a language teaching debugging? This paper explores a new theoretical framework, the Theory of Applied Mind for Programming (TAMP), which merges dual process theory with Jerome Bruner’s theory of representations to model the mind of a programmer. TAMP looks to provide greater explanatory power in why novices struggle and suggest pedagogy to bridge gaps in learning. This paper will provide an example of this by reinterpreting debugging literature using TAMP as a theoretical guide. Incorporating new view theoretical viewpoints from old studies suggests a “debugging-first” pedagogy can supplement existing methods of teaching programming and perhaps fill some of the mental gaps TAMP suggests hamper novice programmers.
Computer Science, Programming, Education, Debugging, Bruner, Dual process theory
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