CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Computing and Engineering

Advisor

Michael J. Laszlo

Committee Member

Sumitra Mukherjee

Committee Member

Francisco J. Mitropoulos

Abstract

Integrated development environments (IDEs) are tools used in cognitive-intensive tasks such as problem-solving and programming. Their complexity, along with a lack of adequate cognitive support, constitutes a steep learning-curve that contributes to high dropout rates for computer science students and subpar performance for novice and professional programmers alike. Even though auditory feedback — a key form of cognitive support — has been proven to improve performance, usability, and communication of information between users and their tools, IDEs today lack this feature. In this paper, we propose the use of auditory feedback to assist cognitive support in IDEs, particularly the use of auditory cues and audibles to provide code syntax and error feedback in programming tasks. We prepared a set of coding tasks for novice programmers to undertake, both with and without the use of auditory feedback, and then assessed the effectiveness of our solution by counting errors and taking time measurements. In addition, we evaluated the auditory feedback experienced by the subjects of our experiment qualitatively via questionnaire. The results of our experiment were very promising as novice programmers who received auditory feedback, despite making more errors, took less time to fix errors and to complete the tasks on average than those that did not. Furthermore, novice programmers showed very positive affection towards auditory feedback.

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