Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science

Committee Chair(s)

John Edwards


John Edwards


Vladimir Kulyukin


Hillary Swanson


Students in introductory programming classes (CS1) generally have a difficult time learning the rules of programming. Although the general concepts of programming are relatively easy to learn, it can be difficult to learn what exactly can be typed in what order, which is known as syntax. To attempt to help students overcome this barrier, a study was conducted that introduced exercises into a CS1 class which taught the programming syntax in simple steps. The results of this study were obtained by analyzing the keys the students pressed, the errors of their code, their midterm exam scores, and their responses to a short survey.

It was found that the syntax exercises did not reduce the amount of time spent on the assignments or the number of keys the students pressed. However, they did help build the students' confidence, as shown by an increased number of students that continued to attempt the assignments.

This could have a huge impact on the field of computer science, as a decrease in student frustration and an increase in student success will lead to more students remaining in computer science programs. More students in computer science programs will lead to a fuller, more diverse workforce.