Full Project – Design and development of a computer aided tutor-for teaching basic programming language

Full Project – Design and development of a computer aided tutor-for teaching basic programming language

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In 1998 at the opening of the publication, HIGHER EDUCATION: transformed by learning Technology (eds.) Darby and Kjoilerstrom (1998). The two editors of the above titled report presented a fictional account of how they perceived a ‘typical’ student might study in four years time. The FICTIONAL STUDENT NAMED Carlos emerges from his sleep eats breakfast and accesses a computer,

His workstation which he uses for most of his studying connects to the academic central network of the high school and uses facilities of his cable TV company. He is studying chemical toxicology, and watches streamed video. When at any point he has difficulty with the representation he repeats a section of it. If it is still not clear, he highlights the notes and selects explain from the guidance menu Carlos is asked a few questions and is then offered a choice of three items on the background materials. Five minutes is enough for him to explain in simple terms the application of that section and then moves to another section. From above the author explained that Carlos is enthusiastic about his mode of studying. He finds it hard to conceive how his parents sat for several hours of lecture when they were students. He has the freedom to study what he wants, when he wants and where he wants. He also enjoys excellent interaction with his teacher who has fewer problems trying to explain to him certain terms and features of a particular chemical compound or structure. This is one of the particular features of Computer Assisted Learning.

According to Tsai (2004), in the United State of America, the American Association of University Professor circulated a letter after concerns were raised concerning a US government white paper, which stated that instructional software could easily, substitute for campus-based instruction. It calculated that only 25 on-line courses were needed to serve 80% of undergraduate courses. The American professor, happy to embrace CAL and recognizing that technology  has helped streamline academic life; were still concerned enough to state high quality teaching, whether done on a distance-learning basis or on a campus basis, requires contact . Most students in some school of higher learning in Nigeria shared this above declaration during the National Conference of Education Students at University of Nigeria in September 2000

Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) covers a range of computer – based packages, which aim to provide interactive instruction usually in a specific subject area. These can range from sophisticated and expensive commercial package to applications developed as projects in educational institutions or national initiatives to simple solutions developed by individuals with no funding or support to tackle a very local problem Watts and Co. (2004). The amount of time and money invested in the development is high and partly because of the very specific nature of the education market as well as the very personalized nature of teaching process-particularly at the higher education level. In general, the use of computer in education through CAL has been sporadic. Great deal of effort was expended into it. Most CAL packages are either run straight from a compact disk memory (CDROM) or floppy disk or over a local network so that constraint of the INTERNET may not apply.

For clarification purpose; the CAL is given to the range of computer-based packages, which aim to provide interactive instruction in a specific subject area. These range from sophisticated and expensive commercial package to application developed by projects in educational institutions (perhaps as part of the technology in teaching and learning program) or even to multimedia applications put together by individuals responding to the specific needs of their students.

The difference between CAL and other forms of teaching modules is that it does not necessarily involve contact between students and the teacher or tutor. Users of the CAL packages may be connected to Central Networking from which every student is linked to through some means so as to have access to the CAL package; or more so accessing it straight from the CDROM’s or floppy disks on installed on a personal computer(pc)which simply allows several users to be at different stages of learning  within the package itself. Two uses of computer for teaching are compared and contrasted most times; the system based on structured, pre-programmed learning materials (i.e. Computer Assisted Learning – CAL), where the learner communicates with the computer and system (n-based, where n is the number of systems), and that which acts as communicating terminals(Computer Mediated Communication (CMC)) where functions of electrical mails, conferencing and data-base storage’s facilitates communication between teachers and students. In this work, the first is deliberated upon since the two educational philosophies are not alike (i.e. CAL and CMC).

Our present approach is to consider the computer as a ‘black box’ which by and large replaces the traditional face-to-face teacher students contact, and more relatively to distance learning. From the learner’s point of view, it is the box, the computer, which teaches. Students now can learn primarily through a home – based computer. In this paper, online Education; perspective on a New Environment. Hurasim (1990) believed that the reduction in hardware costs more advanced CAL software based on a new intelligence (AI), and the ability to connect at low cost to distant mainframe computers will allow distance education to design the teaching process so that most of the learning is contained in this box.

CAL attempts to simulate a dialogue between students and tutor but with the computer playing the role of tutor. The computer carries out two separate but related activities:

  1. It provides information and
  2. It tests student’s knowledge.

May also route students to appropriate information based on the response given by the students. This ‘model’ of teaching can be simplified to repletion of the following cycle.










Fig 1.1 Cal Teaching Cycle Model


The students in such a case may respond to the computer’s question in number of ways.




Here a student chooses from a number of given answers. This is a very common technique. A similar technique is the use of menus, allowing students to select their route through the learning material. These two techniques usually involve not more than choosing a single key for a response. More sophisticated response modes involve keying in whole the computer searches for a keyword, after marking allowances for misspelling or a variety of possible correct responses. The most sophisticated type of response is through touch – screen, were students cannot only correct answer depending on where they are located on the screen, but may even be able to manipulate object or symbols on the screen leaving them from one part to another. Perhaps, the best example of this is the PLATO SYSTEM, which teaches astronomy to students of astronomy.

Another major use of CAL is in simulation, (Tait, 1997). It usually presents students with a number of parameter or variables.




This work gives an overview of traditional teaching practices in contrast to the use of the computer aids such as CAL. CAL is categorically divided into three main sections: These include

  • Behaviouristic CAL
  • Communicate CAL
  • Integrative CAL



This first phase, which was conceived in the1950’s and implemented in the 1970’s, was based on the then dominant theories of learning. This theory was mainly based on the process called ‘Drill and practice’ the drill and practice software is based on the model of the computer tutor (Taylor, 1980). In other words the computer serves as a vehicle for delivering instructional materials to the student. Its main aim is the repeated exposure of students to the same material. Briefly put, the rationale is as follows:

  1. Repeated exposure to the same material is beneficial or even essential to learning.
  2. A computer is ideal for carrying out repeated drills, since the machine does not get bored with presenting the same material and since it can provide immediate non-judgment feedback.
  3. A computer can present such material on an individualized basis, allowing students to proceed at their own pace and freeing up class time for other activities.

This phase is based on the communicative approach to teaching, which became prominent in the 1980’s. The proponent of this phase felt that the drill and practice did not allow for authentic communication. That means that the software should foster interactivity between the learner and the tutor (computer). In these  programs, like the drill and practice program mentioned above, the computer remains the “knower – of – the – answer” (Taylor & Perez, 1998); thus this represents an extension of the computer as tutor model. But in contrast to the drill and practice programs- the process of finding the right answer involves a fair amount of student choice control and interaction.


Interactive approach to CAL is based on two important technological development of the last decade- the multimedia computers and the internet. The interactive process in this phase is exemplified in the multimedia technology that integrates various media in the teaching process using Cal. The variety of media is text, graphics, sound, animation and video. What makes multimedia even more powerful is that, it also entails hypermedia. That means that the multimedia resources are all linked together and that learners can navigate their own   path. Simply by pointing and clicking a mouse. Hypermedia provides a number of advantages for learning, first of all, a more authentic learning environment are created, since listening is combined with seeing, just like in the real world. Secondly, skills are easily integrated, since the variety of media makes it natural to combine reading, writing, speaking and listening in a single activity. Third,  students have great control over their learning, since they can not only go at their pace but even on their own individual path, going forward and backwards, to different parts of the program, coming in on a particular aspects and  skipping other aspects altogether.



The previous method of teaching BASIC programming language in various universities was not adequate enough to impact knowledge to students. Some of the problems associated with this method include the following:

  1. Lack of microphone when there are thousands of students in a lecture hall.
  2. Lack of material for the lecture.
  3. Insufficient reading materials given to students.
  4. Inconsistent of lectures from the lecturers.
  5. Failure to update academic program.



While tutors can do many of the already mentioned functions of Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) packages, these functions are by and large tedious and time consuming and are probably best done by computers. If the resources are available and the economy justifies the activity, the use of the Computer Assisted Learning aids in the following functions:

  • It improves speed of learning in students
  • It allows individualized teaching
  • It also provides students with restricted activities


The significance of this research work is to render help to students studying programming languages in instructions. Meanwhile, the following is going to be achieved from this study.

  1. It will provide or deploy self-interactive teaching.
  2. Help students to know more about BASIC programming language.
  3. Help students know other aspect of programming.



The Scope of this research work is basically restricted to the use of Computer Assisted Learning to teach BASIC programming language (Microsoft version)MS-BASIC), including other areas of coverage.


During the course of writing this project, some problems were encountered

These problems include:

  1. Lack of relevant materials as it concerns Nigeria and the use of information technology in teaching.
  2. Inadequate facilities in school with respect to computer system and library.
  3. Access to the internet was somehow a problem because of Network Connections.


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Full Project – Design and development of a computer aided tutor-for teaching basic programming language