Repertory Grid Interviews: Insights into Personal Constructs of Novice Programmers


This case provides an account of the use of the repertory grid interview technique as one aspect of my PhD study. The doctoral thesis documented the development of a holistic approach to redesign an introductory programming course to enhance learning and teaching of object-oriented programming to novices. Starting with the premise that it is not possible to improve teaching without understanding how students learn programming, the thesis traces the processes and reflections experienced while applying knowledge of how students learn programming, to design a learning environment that enhances learning outcomes. First, a theoretically based framework for the teaching of the course was developed. Second, in two cycles of action research, the course was implemented, and the analysis of its outcome was conducted. The repertory grid interview technique was used to gather evidence of student engagement and improved learning and to understand how students construed the learning and assessment tasks as contributing to their learning. Quality criteria were applied to assess the validity and rigour of the findings. The technique proved to be challenging, as well as a transformative process that generated new perceptions and understandings, and which led to new initiatives and implications for theory and practice.

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