Toward understanding novices' search process in programming problem solving

Yihan Lu, Ihan Hsiao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The usage of online search engine is growing rapidly not only in daily life, but also in education. We are interested in understanding what strategies students apply during search, especially the tactics they use to decompose a programming task. In this paper, we report a lab study to investigate students' programming information seeking behavior via Google search engine. Students were given a programming task with limited time, and they were also required to report their online search process including search query and web pages browsed. We analyze the web pages they browsed, model student's behavior, and cluster them into groups with different search tactics. The results show that the web pages they browsed during the task consisted of either conceptual knowledge or coding technical content. The students who performed better would browsed more about conceptual knowledge. Students who set more and smaller unit of subgoals outperformed the students with fewer and larger subgoals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFIE 2017 - Frontiers in Education, Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781509059195
StatePublished - Dec 12 2017
Event47th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2017 - Indianapolis, United States
Duration: Oct 18 2017Oct 21 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Other47th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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