Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Committee Member

Neal Strudler

Number of Pages



CS Online was developed as an instructional environment to address many issues facing computer science education. One of these is the need to rekindle interest in introductory computer science. CS Online seeks to accomplish this by offering active learning experiences set in real-world contexts. The intended outcomes are increased interest in computer science as an academic discipline, increased enrollments in related courses, and increased achievement resulting from cognitive skills growth; The CS Online system generated data while 36 high school students solved programming problems, and questionnaires administered by the system were used to collect information about students' self-regulatory skills and experience in math and computers. In addition, qualitative data analysis of source code submitted by students was conducted to determine how students progressed through the problem solving process and the common mistakes they made; The study revealed that students with differing levels of math and computer experience and self-regulatory skills were able to adequately complete programming problems using the system. The descriptive data on the 36 students indicated that students with high motivation seemed to outperform low motivation students in all performance measures in the study. Those who had high planning skills also seemed to outperform the low group in most of the performance measures. A similar pattern was observed in the students with high versus low math and computer skills. As the task difficulty increased, students with high planning skills seemed to require increasingly fewer attempts to complete exercises than those with lower planning skills. A qualitative analysis of problem solving revealed that students erred in syntax, logic, and then grammar---in that order. It was also shown that students spent considerable time re-running programs to observe output or to clean-up code; Although the findings suggest that in general motivation and planning seem to be important components of learning a programming language, the current descriptive findings should be interpreted with caution. Future studies with larger sample sizes are warranted. To examine effects of self-regulation on learning and performance, other relevant variables, such as existing computer language skills, may be included to control their effects on the performance; Additional findings suggest that the use of hints were helpful for students with lower math skills, computer skills, and motivation. Teachers can encourage the use of hints for those who need the extra help, but can discourage their use for the more highly skilled and motivated. The findings also suggest that, based on the types of mistakes students commonly made, instruction on debugging skills should be considered to reduce the number of syntax, logic, and grammar errors. Less time spent correcting errors becomes more time spent on problem solving. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).


Computer; Computer Science; Development; Efficacy; Environment; Instructional; Instructional Environment; Online; Preliminary; Science; Validation

Controlled Subject

Curriculum planning; Educational technology; Computer science

File Format


File Size

9062.4 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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