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Hands-on in computer programming education

Understanding educational effects and brain processes (HOPE-project)

Research project: Engineering education

Published Feb 17, 2016

How does practical activities promote learning? This will be investigated by researchers in education and neurology at KTH, Uppsala University and University of East Anglia, UK. As a model, computer programming will be used. Qualitative methods, such as classroom observations and interviews, will be conducted by KTH's representative Maria Weurlander. Maria is active at the unit Learning in STEM at KTH.


Research area: Computer science education

Duration: 2016-2018


  • Maria Weurlander , KTH Lärande
  • Anna Eckerdal, UU
  • Michael Thuné, UU
  • Kristina Hausswolff, UU
  • Sara Bengtsson, University of East Anglia, UK
  • Andreas Lidström, KI

About the project

A body of research supports the claim that hands-on activities facilitate learning, both of practical skills and of conceptual knowledge. However, the scientific basis for this is surprisingly weak. This 3-year multidisciplinary project aims at filling some of these knowledge gaps.

Objective of project

The project will study processes underlying hands-on and hands-off learning using computer programming as model behavior. We will study some possible explanations of the beneficial effects, i.e. attentional, emotional, and motivational aspects of hands-on in controlled behavioral experiments and with brain imaging. We will further study the role of hands-on from the students' perspective in a programming course by means of qualitative methods such as classroom observations and interviews. The part of the project where we explore engineering students’ learning programming, will be conducted at KTH. Maria Weurlander is responsible for the classroom investigations.

The study is conducted by researchers in education and neuroscience at KTH, Uppsala University and University of East Anglia, UK, for insights into neural principles, behavioral mechanisms, and classroom experiences of H-ON when learning programming.

Belongs to: The Department of Learning in Engineering Sciences
Last changed: Feb 17, 2016
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