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Natural Language Tutoring and the Novice Programmer

Lane, H. Chad (2005) Natural Language Tutoring and the Novice Programmer. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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For beginning programmers, inadequate problem solving and planning skills are among the most salient of their weaknesses. Novices, by definition, lack much of the tacit knowledge that underlies effective programming. This dissertation examines the efficacy of natural language tutoring (NLT) to foster acquisition of this tacit knowledge. Coached Program Planning (CPP) is proposed as a solution to the problem of teaching the tacit knowledge of programming. The general aim is to cultivate the development of such knowledge by eliciting and scaffolding the problem solving and planning activities that novices are known to underestimate or bypass altogether. ProPL (pro-PELL), a dialogue-based intelligent tutoring system based on CPP, is also described. In an evaluation, the primary findings were that students who received tutoring from ProPL seemed to exhibit an improved ability compose plans and displayed behaviors suggestive of thinking at greater levels of abstraction than students in a read-only control group. The major finding is that NLT appears to be effective in teaching program composition skills.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lane, H. Chadhclane@illinois.edu0000-0002-3046-1751
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairVanLehn,
Committee MemberLitman, Dianelitman@cs.pitt.eduDLITMAN
Committee MemberWiebe, Janycewiebe@cs.pitt.eduJMW106
Committee MemberPetre,
Committee MemberBrusilovsky, Peterpeterb@mail.sis.pitt.eduPETERB
Date: 31 January 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 8 September 2004
Approval Date: 31 January 2005
Submission Date: 8 December 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 193
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Computer Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: artificial intelligence; computer science education; dialogue systems; intelligent tutoring systems; novice programmers; programming instruction
Other ID:, etd-12082004-151424
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2020 12:55


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