Demos Reinforce Errors, and Confusion is Good

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Mark Guzdial has posted a good summary of this year's ICER keynote by physics education guru Eric Mazur, in which he reported the results of several recent experiments. The most important for us are:

  1. Giving people a demo of something actually results in them understanding it less well, because they fit what they've seen into their preconceptions (which are then reinforced). Guzdial interprets this to mean that CS educators need to do more live coding.
  2. Students like teachers who clarify things, but students who are confused are actually more likely to learn and understand.
  3. Students' self-reported understanding of a topic has no relation to their actual understanding of it (which highlights once again the fact that self-assessment is useless).

There are obvious implications for this course...

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