A Formal Process for Programming Language Evaluation for Introductory Courses

Kevin Parker, Joseph Chao, Thomas Ottaway, Jane Chang
InSITE 2006  •  Volume 6  •  2006
The selection of a programming language for introductory courses has long been an informal process involving faculty evaluation, discussion, and consensus. As the number of faculty, students, and language options grows, this process becomes increasingly unwieldy. As it stands, the process currently lacks structure and replicability. Establishing a structured approach to the selection of a programming language would enable a more thorough evaluation of the available options and a more easily supportable selection. Developing and documenting an instrument and a methodology for language selection will allow the process to be more easily repeated in the future. The objectives of this research are to: i) identify criteria for faculty use when selecting a computer programming language for an introductory course in computer programming; ii) develop an instrument that facilitates the assignment of weights to each of those selection criterion to determine their relative importance in the selection process, and; iii) allow various computer programming languages to be scored according to those selection criteria. A set of criteria for the selection of a programming language for introductory courses proposed in a previous paper is briefly reviewed here, with each criterion accompanied with a definition and justification. Readers are referred to the source paper for a complete discussion and literature review.
Programming language selection, introduction to programming, teaching programming, programming language evaluation, multicriteria decision analysis, analytic hierarchy process.
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