The purpose of the proposed study topic is to support students learning information technology, particularly programming, to stay motivated throughout the course and beyond. This topic emerged as the basis of this inquiry after the experiences of my 5-day observation placement at B High School. In the year 10 software development class were only 11 students, working on a project. The students had had 3 teachers, their actual tutor, and the other two that were specifically hired to help the students catch up on tasks delayed due to the lockdown.

A conversation with their teacher revealed that many students do not finish the course, often dropping out at the beginning or in the middle. The teacher explained that familiarity with computers makes students select the subject but they struggle and get stuck learning programming languages to build up software. I discovered that this problem results from the less focus the institution places on teaching programming languages, and students mainly drop out because learning programming on their own is very difficult. Moreover, the school has not considered any strategies that can motivate the students to learn to program.

Based on this experience, the purpose of this research is to answer questions such as what strategies do professionals recommend for effective teaching and learning of programming languages? How do successful programming language teachers motivate and engage learners? What should B High School administration do to implement the strategies that improve the successful completion of information technology courses?

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Relevance and Scope Review

I have a specific interest in investigating and assessing ways in which students interact with classroom content. There is unmatched satisfaction in observing learners progress from a point of struggle to one of enjoyment and success. It is, therefore, unfortunate that some students still find programming language very challenging. Organizing special programming classes for beginners and regularly inviting experts to share their interesting teaching styles are very useful.

In accordance with Australian Professional Standards for Teaching, making arrangements for and adopting effective ways of teaching and learning is essential for better educational outcomes for learners. AITSL (2018) standard that match this need are achieved through:

  • collaborating with colleagues when planning, testing and modifying programs for teaching and learning to achieve engage all students in an effective learning environment;
  • supporting colleagues to choose and implement teaching strategies that effectively promote development of knowledge and skills, especially problem-solving ability as well as creative and critical thinking;
  • encouraging colleague to utilize various resources, even ICT, for the purpose of engaging students in the learning process;
  • involving other teachers when reviewing institution’s practices, curriculum knowledge, and students’ feedback or assessment data regarding the existing teaching and learning initiatives; and
  • seeking input of colleagues when selecting teaching and learning opportunities that are appropriate and relevant to the context.

What others have written on this topic

Many authors agree that programming is generally hard to teach and learn but motivating students simplifies the subject for both teachers and learners. Margulieux et al. (2020), for example, explained that the rates of failures and drop-outs in this course often reaches 50%. Margulieux and colleagues blamed this failure on lack of motivation, stating that teachers tend to overemphasize less useful approaches instead of teaching the procedures for handling complex problems.

The authors recommended the use of sub-goals to help with breaking down complex programming tasks into simple and easy to solve sections. In their study, Margulieux at al. reported that students’ performance improved after the incorporation of sub-goal labels, meaning that this intervention can help to motivate the students. According to Figueiredo and García-Peñalvo (2019) effective learning of programming demands motivation, dedication, and completion of several tasks.

They stated that students are likely to be frustrated and abandon the course due to failure and absence of motivation. Figueiredo and García-Peñalvo recommended that educators should anticipate students’ failure in this subject and implement activities to prevent the negative outcomes. In particular, the authors suggested that teachers should train students and include more assignments to help students improve in areas which they find difficult.

Brown (2018) also acknowledged the technicality of programming and provided many tips to help motivate students. The author argued that it is inappropriate for programming ability to be considered innate because it is a learned skill which gets better as one continues to practice it. Brown suggested that programming skills may be improved through:

  • personalized teaching or one-on-one instruction,
  • live coding,
  •  engaging students in making predictions,
  • pair programming, application of step-by-step guides or sub-goals,
  • teaching one programming language at a time,
  • introducing manipulation of real materials,
  • assign tools and approaches based on expertise, and
  • making tasks manageable by breaking them down. 

Adding to this discussion, Iskrenovic-Momcilovic (2018) explained that programming language requires a way of thinking that most students are not yet used to, and this is kills students’ motivation. In other words, programming language cannot be learned within a short period of time. Iskrenovic-Momcilovic discussed that using students data can help educators to select the best approaches to teaching and learning programming languages.

Motivation and previous knowledge in the subject were also found to affect choice of teaching and learning procedures. Lastly, Ling, Hsiao, and Hsu (2021) stated that a student has to learn several programming languages and the ability to master the basic programming skills is what determines their outcomes in various programming languages. With a particular focus on Python language, Ling et al. argued that student motivation goes together with self-efficacy nature of programming and ability to adapt to changes in programming languages to affect the overall performance of students.

The purpose of the proposed inquiry is to understand the effect of motivating students on drop-out and failure rates, among year 10 students. By employing the qualitative research methods such interviewing tutors, observations, and reviewing students’ data and feedback, this research will reveal why motivation engages programming language learners.

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Ethical Implications

Understanding the learning and teaching requirements and working towards achieving them may at times be a personal responsibility. For this reason, Employee Relations (2008) emphasizes the need for accountability among teachers. One area of accountability is being responsible for the programs delivered to students, and no partiality is expected.

It is my duty as the tutor to make class notes and use them to impart knowledge into learners. As a result, whatever is shared with learners is my own responsibility. I must, thus, comply with appropriate codes of ethics to ensure that whatever is done in the classroom is professionally sound. The principle of accountability maintains that teachers keep records of the lessons taught to help with any crucial teaching decisions (Employee Relations, 2008). The proposed inquiry is about search for motivational strategies that help students to learn programming languages with higher success rates.

Keeping records is, therefore, a very important way of collecting data that will later be used to review the performance of the teaching and learning strategies I apply in the classroom. After recognizing the different teaching and learning programs that improve the ability of students to score higher, I will choose several to try out in the classroom. Noting the strategy I apply at a given time and giving students quizzes afterward will help to evaluate the suggested programs and enable the selection of what is most appropriate.

Again, Employee Relations reports state that it is the duty of teachers to encourage learners to set higher goals and appreciate learning. I will apply this principle to help students in the information technology class to set their target scores and work hard to achieve them. I will make use of the effective tactics I learn in the course of this inquiry to simplify the learning process so that they find the classwork enjoyable.

Another ethical conduct defined by Employee Relations (2008) is that teachers are expected to place the interests and benefits of their students above their own. To apply this principle, I will dedicate my time and use all the relevant resources to ensure that students learn programming languages and understand them as well. When the need arises, I will schedule extra lessons for students that require more time to learn concepts. This will ensure that every student understands the lessons.

Prioritizing the needs of students also means working with colleagues to serve the needs of students in the best way possible. Therefore, I will collaborate with colleagues and even help them teach lessons that I understand best to ensure that all students achieve the highest grades in programming languages.

Employee Relations also indicated that educators should willingly invest in advancing their knowledge and skills. I will ensure that I learn the approaches and tools that are identified by this inquiry to be the most effective in teaching programming languages.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

This proposed inquiry relates to all the Australian Professional Standards for Teaching (AITSL, 2018). In accordance with Standard 1, this inquiry will illustrate the understanding of the role of guiding my colleagues through nurturing of teaching techniques that enhance student learning through proper understanding of their intellectual development. In particular, the inquiry will show that I take the leadership role in examining efficacy of teaching programs through knowledge of the work environment and research.

In line with Standard 2, the inquiry will give me the chance to demonstrate the innovative practices that can be used during selection and teaching of content to enhance delivery of lessons. I will as well be able to use the knowledge I gain about the curriculum, to assist colleagues with planning and implementation of learning teaching of programming language.  

When I begin to use the knowledge I gain through the inquiry to show colleagues ways of convincing learners to set and accomplish challenging goals, I will be complying with the third standard. The standard also applies to when guiding colleagues through planning of teaching content and reviewing of the programs to determine their effectiveness. Here, an effective teaching program should improve students’ skills and knowledge of programming language.

The fact that some students drop out while others continue learning shows a difference in levels of understanding. The inquiry will include a search for inclusive strategies that engage and show support for all learners. These activities match the requirements of the fourth standard. Establishing classroom management strategies and sharing them with colleagues to help them engage all learners in purposeful practices also complies with this standard.

The successful completion of the proposed inquiry will also necessitate the identification of student needs and how they relate to the requirements of the curriculum to enable colleagues to determine the effectiveness of their approaches. This will show that Standard 5 is also met. The standard promotes assessments that aim to reveal the learning needs of students, adoption of exemplary practice frameworks, and introduction of programs that help colleagues to utilize the most appropriate feedback strategies.

 If the inquiry findings indicate a need for teachers to learn the skills for teaching programming language effectively, then professional goals will be set and pursued as stated in the sixth standard. This will involve evaluating past studies to find professional learning opportunities that will improve how the teachers deliver programming content to the learners.

Given the importance of programming language to society, teachers may be required to collaborate with parents in motivating the students to learn. In such circumstances, responding to any questions parents/carers may have regarding the performance of the students shows compliance with the seventh standard.

Benefits to Students I teach

As a teacher, I have the responsibility of sharing what I already know with the students. This means that understanding the process of this inquiry will make more competent and knowledgeable in the area of programming, and I will use my new knowledge to share better content with the learners. In particular, I will start to identify the needs of each of my students and engage with them to aid their overall understanding of the subject.

As Brown (2018) stated, everyone must go through the process of learning to become a programmer. I already understand that there is a way that could help the students that fail this subject to also get better grades. In other words, understanding the procedures of this inquiry will give me a new way of looking at the situation so I can help every student to achieve the best grades in this subject. In fact, Iskrenovic-Momcilovic (2018) mentioned that there is a particular way of reasoning which makes programming different from the other subjects that students already know.

Following this inquiry through will help me to also learn about this way of thinking that helps successful programmers and share with my learners to help them handle the complex programming tasks. All the strategies I use will recognize dissimilarities in the way students understand content so that I adopt the forms of instructions that meet the learning needs of every learner. Even motivation starts from the teacher’s side then spreads to the learners (Figueiredo & García-Peñalvo, 2019). This inquiry will help me learn how to achieve and maintain my motivation so that I pass the same to my students.

Motivation will change the negative way in which students see programming and help them get more engaged in learning and understanding the various concepts. Even better, the inquiry will help me to identify a range of teaching styles that students find interesting. When I have the ability to teach effectively, my learners will have the chance to excel in their careers. Margulieux et al. (2020) noted that coding knowledge is in high demand due to the increasing availability of coding jobs. Technicality of the course also keeps many people out of it, giving competitive advantage to the successful learners. In other words, coding knowledge makes it easy for a person to get a job.

Programming knowledge prowess also offers an unmatched way of interacting with technologies that many people ignore. In other words, coding skills enhance one’s understanding of how smart devices operate and even the way in which video games are made. My ability to help students do their best in programming languages will improve their creativity (Brown, 2018). The increased creativity is in the ability to develop websites, apps, and games.

Successful programming students will, thus, make their own creative apps and games whenever they wish. Excellent programming students develop problem-solving skills as they tackle the complex problems that this course presents (Figueiredo & García-Peñalvo, 2019). One essential skill that such sophisticated tasks nurture is the ability to discover the ways of approaching problems and how to apply computational and logical reasoning to solve the challenges. Another key skill that learners gain is better persistence.

Programming languages are never easy to learn and solving the complex tasks exposes a person to several mistakes, which actually frustrate some learners. Individuals that do not give up despite the many mistakes will develop persistence. A well thought-out teaching and learning strategy for programming class should enable learners to apply research and collaboration in solving problems.

When the students work in pair or small groups during programming lessons, they learn to collaborate with others in tackling real life problems. Another crucial skill that emerges from collaboration is effective communication. As students work in groups, designed by the teacher, they learn to share their thoughts and ideas regarding the issues they are working on. Overtime, students develop effective communication skills.