“Why is this course pushing functional programming?” - educating well-rounded web developers with functional JavaScript

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Abstract

Imperative, object-oriented, and multi-paradigm programming languages are dominant in higher education. However, the use of functional languages is emerging. In parallel, features supporting functional paradigm (FP) have been added to languages traditionally categorized to other paradigms. Students benefit from fluency with several paradigms. In the studied primary Web Development course, JavaScript was used to familiarize students with selected
features of the FP. The grading of the FP exercises was automatic. The automatic graders guaranteed the uniformity of feedback, treating each student’s submissions equally. Exercise graders accepted multiple submissions, and their feedback suggested code improvements to students. After each of the ten exercise modules, students (N=257) estimated the topic difficulty and gave feedback. The post-module questionnaires emphasized FP topics in particular.
The results show that students are aware of programming paradigms, but more support should be offered when learning new ones, for instance, having more concrete instructions and hands-on videos. The need for more instructions was apparent as, after the course’s FP introduction, some students were still easily confused about such abstract FP concepts as ‘functions as first-class citizens’. However, exercise results showed that students learned to use the taught
FP features. They found them difficult, but for example, the JavaScript concurrency model was found to be more difficult.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - SEFI 49th Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationBlended Learning in Engineering Education: Challenging, Enlightening - and Lasting?
EditorsHans-Ulrich Heiß, Hannu-Matti Järvinen, Annette Mayer, Alexandra Schulz, Anja Wipper
Pages1061-1070
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventSEFI Annual Conference - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 13 Sept 202116 Sept 2021

Conference

ConferenceSEFI Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryGermany
CityBerlin
Period13/09/2116/09/21

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

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