M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentKeren Kalif
SubjectPerceptions of College Students and Lectures of
the Preferred Reference Materials Used during the
Basic Programming Exam: Implementations
and Recommendations
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Full Professors Hazzan Orit
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


In every undergraduate study program in engineering and computer-science, students must take a basic programming course. The goals of the course are to learn programming in some programming language, mostly C/C or Java, and develop algorithmic thinking . Students with no previous background in programming find it difficult to solve complex questions that integrate a few subjects.

In almost every study program in other fields (e.g., psychology, medicine, engineering, economics etc.), students are allowed to use reference materials during the exam. The goal is to reduce the students’ anxiety while learning towards and during the exam, and to reduce the amount of information students must memorize. Much research has investigated the use of reference materials during exams in a variety of disciplines, and its influence on several factors, e.g., how students study for an exam when reference materials are allowed, and how the use of reference materials influences the grade they receive. According to the literature reviewed, currently, no research has focused on the use of reference materials during the basic programming exam. In order to partially close this gap, this study characterizes the perceptions of college lecturers and students with respect to the optimal availability and use of reference materials during this exam in colleges.

The research significance is both theoretically and practically: the theoretical significance refers to students and the lecturers’ perspectives towards the use of reference materials during the basic programming exam. The practical significance is a recommendation about the optimal reference materials that should be allowed to students to use during this exam.

The research method was mixed and included both quantitative and qualitative tools.

The research revealed two kind of findings: two findings that help understand the current situation, and three findings related to students and lecturers perspectives towards the reference materials that should be allowed during the basic programming exam. The first finding which helps understand the current situation, is students’ ability to evaluate their knowledge level in the basic programming course. The second is that students prefer having unlimited reference materials, while lecturers prefer only limited reference materials, or few summary pages. This gap increased the need to understand whose preference is more suitable.

The second group includes three findings related to students’ and lecturers’ perspectives, and led to the research conclusion:

First, students prefer unlimited reference materials during the preparation phase for the exam and during the exam itself; The second is that few summary pages are sufficient to satisfy students’ anxiety; The third is the significance both lecturers and the students attribute to students’ knowledge of syntax: Neither students nor lecturers think it is necessary for students to memorize the syntax, and both think they can rely on the reference materials for assistance. This assumption, however, is incorrect since, as in spoken language, knowing words is a key factor for successfully building complete sentences.

The combination of all the findings leads to the conclusion that reference materials should be allowed and be consisted of only few summary pages, including functions signatures.