Tracking Students' Cognitive Processes during Program Debugging-An Eye-Movement Approach

Yu-Tzu Lin, Cheng Chih Wu, Ting Yun Hou, Yu Chih Lin, Fang Ying Yang, Chia Hu Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study explores students' cognitive processes while debugging programs by using an eye tracker. Students' eye movements during debugging were recorded by an eye tracker to investigate whether and how high-and low-performance students act differently during debugging. Thirty-eight computer science undergraduates were asked to debug two C programs. The path of students' gaze while following program codes was subjected to sequential analysis to reveal significant sequences of areas examined. These significant gaze path sequences were then compared to those of students with different debugging performances. The results show that, when debugging, high-performance students traced programs in a more logical manner, whereas low-performance students tended to stick to a line-by-line sequence and were unable to quickly derive the program's higher-level logic. Low-performance students also often jumped directly to certain suspected statements to find bugs, without following the program's logic. They also often needed to trace back to prior statements to recall information, and spent more time on manual computation. Based on the research results, adaptive instructional strategies and materials can be developed for students of different performance levels, to improve associated cognitive activities during debugging, which can foster learning during debugging and programming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7312518
Pages (from-to)175-186
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 1

Fingerprint

Program debugging
Eye movements
Students
student
performance
student movement
research results
computer science
Computer science
programming

Keywords

  • Cognition analysis
  • eye-movement analysis
  • program debugging
  • programming instruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Cite this

Tracking Students' Cognitive Processes during Program Debugging-An Eye-Movement Approach. / Lin, Yu-Tzu; Wu, Cheng Chih; Hou, Ting Yun; Lin, Yu Chih; Yang, Fang Ying; Chang, Chia Hu.

In: IEEE Transactions on Education, Vol. 59, No. 3, 7312518, 01.08.2016, p. 175-186.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lin, Yu-Tzu ; Wu, Cheng Chih ; Hou, Ting Yun ; Lin, Yu Chih ; Yang, Fang Ying ; Chang, Chia Hu. / Tracking Students' Cognitive Processes during Program Debugging-An Eye-Movement Approach. In: IEEE Transactions on Education. 2016 ; Vol. 59, No. 3. pp. 175-186.
@article{c1e2ccadf8424ba2903a7b9706bd00d9,
title = "Tracking Students' Cognitive Processes during Program Debugging-An Eye-Movement Approach",
abstract = "This study explores students' cognitive processes while debugging programs by using an eye tracker. Students' eye movements during debugging were recorded by an eye tracker to investigate whether and how high-and low-performance students act differently during debugging. Thirty-eight computer science undergraduates were asked to debug two C programs. The path of students' gaze while following program codes was subjected to sequential analysis to reveal significant sequences of areas examined. These significant gaze path sequences were then compared to those of students with different debugging performances. The results show that, when debugging, high-performance students traced programs in a more logical manner, whereas low-performance students tended to stick to a line-by-line sequence and were unable to quickly derive the program's higher-level logic. Low-performance students also often jumped directly to certain suspected statements to find bugs, without following the program's logic. They also often needed to trace back to prior statements to recall information, and spent more time on manual computation. Based on the research results, adaptive instructional strategies and materials can be developed for students of different performance levels, to improve associated cognitive activities during debugging, which can foster learning during debugging and programming.",
keywords = "Cognition analysis, eye-movement analysis, program debugging, programming instruction",
author = "Yu-Tzu Lin and Wu, {Cheng Chih} and Hou, {Ting Yun} and Lin, {Yu Chih} and Yang, {Fang Ying} and Chang, {Chia Hu}",
year = "2016",
month = "8",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1109/TE.2015.2487341",
language = "English",
volume = "59",
pages = "175--186",
journal = "IEEE Transactions on Education",
issn = "0018-9359",
publisher = "Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Tracking Students' Cognitive Processes during Program Debugging-An Eye-Movement Approach

AU - Lin, Yu-Tzu

AU - Wu, Cheng Chih

AU - Hou, Ting Yun

AU - Lin, Yu Chih

AU - Yang, Fang Ying

AU - Chang, Chia Hu

PY - 2016/8/1

Y1 - 2016/8/1

N2 - This study explores students' cognitive processes while debugging programs by using an eye tracker. Students' eye movements during debugging were recorded by an eye tracker to investigate whether and how high-and low-performance students act differently during debugging. Thirty-eight computer science undergraduates were asked to debug two C programs. The path of students' gaze while following program codes was subjected to sequential analysis to reveal significant sequences of areas examined. These significant gaze path sequences were then compared to those of students with different debugging performances. The results show that, when debugging, high-performance students traced programs in a more logical manner, whereas low-performance students tended to stick to a line-by-line sequence and were unable to quickly derive the program's higher-level logic. Low-performance students also often jumped directly to certain suspected statements to find bugs, without following the program's logic. They also often needed to trace back to prior statements to recall information, and spent more time on manual computation. Based on the research results, adaptive instructional strategies and materials can be developed for students of different performance levels, to improve associated cognitive activities during debugging, which can foster learning during debugging and programming.

AB - This study explores students' cognitive processes while debugging programs by using an eye tracker. Students' eye movements during debugging were recorded by an eye tracker to investigate whether and how high-and low-performance students act differently during debugging. Thirty-eight computer science undergraduates were asked to debug two C programs. The path of students' gaze while following program codes was subjected to sequential analysis to reveal significant sequences of areas examined. These significant gaze path sequences were then compared to those of students with different debugging performances. The results show that, when debugging, high-performance students traced programs in a more logical manner, whereas low-performance students tended to stick to a line-by-line sequence and were unable to quickly derive the program's higher-level logic. Low-performance students also often jumped directly to certain suspected statements to find bugs, without following the program's logic. They also often needed to trace back to prior statements to recall information, and spent more time on manual computation. Based on the research results, adaptive instructional strategies and materials can be developed for students of different performance levels, to improve associated cognitive activities during debugging, which can foster learning during debugging and programming.

KW - Cognition analysis

KW - eye-movement analysis

KW - program debugging

KW - programming instruction

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84951887152&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84951887152&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1109/TE.2015.2487341

DO - 10.1109/TE.2015.2487341

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84951887152

VL - 59

SP - 175

EP - 186

JO - IEEE Transactions on Education

JF - IEEE Transactions on Education

SN - 0018-9359

IS - 3

M1 - 7312518

ER -