Late-Breaking Work

Structuring Collaboration in Programming Through Personal-Spaces


The effectiveness of pair programming in pedagogy depends on the frequency and quality of communication of the driver. We explore an alternative collaboration paradigm that tackles this imbalance through Parsons problems: students are given fragments of code out of order and tasked with re-organizing them into the correct order. We then create an interdependence between students by assigning each to a different sub-problem in their own space, termed Personal-spaces -- they must engage in dialog to negotiate, exchange, and share fragments. In an exploratory study with nine pairs of undergraduate students, we find evidence pointing to affordances of different coordination conditions: Personal-spaces promoted ownership and engagement, while Turn-taking (akin to pair programming) helped maintain a consistent train of thought. Our results provide considerations for design of appropriate problem sets and interfaces to structure collaborative learning.