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A recent study about the effectiveness of subgoal labeling in an introductory computer science programming course both supported previous research and produced some puzzling results. In this study, we replicate the experiment with a different student population to determine if the results are repeatable. We also gave the experimental task to students in a follow-on course to explore if they had indeed mastered the programming concept. We found that the previous puzzling results were repeated. In addition, for the novice programmers, we found a statistically significant difference in performance based on whether the student had previous programming courses in high school. However, this performance difference disappears in a follow-on course after all students have taken an introductory computer science programming course. The results of this study have implications for how quickly students are evaluated for mastery of knowledge and how we group students in introductory programming courses.


Published by ACM in the Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research (ICER '16), on August 25, 2016, and can be accessed at