This work extends previous research on subgoal labeled instructions by examining their effect across a semester-long, Java-based CS1 course. Across four quizzes, students were asked to explain in plain English the process that they would use to solve a programming problem. In this mixed methods study, we used the SOLO taxonomy to categorize student responses about problem-solving processes and compare students who learned with subgoal labels to those who did not. The use of the SOLO taxonomy classification allows us to look deeper than the mere correctness of answers to focus on the quality of the answers produced in terms of completeness of relevant concepts and explanation of relationships among concepts. Students who learned with subgoals produced higher-rated answers in terms of complexity and quality on three of four quizzes. Also, they were three times more likely to discuss issues of data type on a question about assignments and expressions than students who did not learn with subgoal labeling. This suggests that the use of subgoal labeling enabled students to gain a deeper and more complex understanding of the material presented in the course.
Decker, Adrienne; Margulieux, Lauren E.; and Morrison, Briana B., "Using the SOLO Taxonomy to Understand Subgoal Labels Effect in CS1" (2019). Computer Science Faculty Proceedings & Presentations. 64.