Individual specialist versus group preparation for a computer programming contest involving secondary students

McAllister, Deborah Ann, Ed.D., University of Kansas, 1994


This dissertation investigates the effects of two different grouping strategies on secondary students concerning their preparation for, and performance at, a computer programming contest. Students were divided into two groups, experimental and control, for a 3-week treatment, followed by the contest. Students in the experimental group became problem-type specialists, and worked alone, and results were pooled for a team score. Students in the control group used a traditional grouping strategy where they worked together in solving all problems. Data was collected on the following measures: attitude toward contest participation, attitude toward computer programming, individual style within the team framework, and effectiveness of the team. Results showed that the experimental group, the problem-type specialists, had a more positive attitude toward computer programming as a school subject, and scored higher on measures of team effectiveness than students in the control group. The problem-type specialists, individually and as a team, showed they were more likely to share information concerned with their own knowledge. Novice participants spent more time in preparation than experienced participants. An interaction between group assignment and rank within group on preparation time showed that problem-type specialists who solved more problems spent relatively more time preparing for the contest. These results suggest that the problem-type specialist strategy is instrumental in making improvements in student attitude toward computer programming and in team effectiveness. The computer programming contest is a successful activity for the secondary student.