Application of scaffolding principles to support transfer of mathematical skills to entry-level algorithm design in a novice programming course.
This paper presents a teaching strategy used in the ICT First Year and Foundation Unit at the Tshwane University of Technology to support the transfer of mathematical knowledge and skills to entry-level algorithm design. Students are often able to perform mathematical calculations by writing down actual numbers and using a pocket calculator. However, when they have to generalize the calculations by using variables and designing an algorithm in sequential steps, they find it difficult. The transition from specific calculations to the generalization thereof and sequential execution of calculations is achieved by applying principles of scaffolding. This paper presents a description of the teaching strategy where students first solve a word problem mathematically, then use a guided Excel spreadsheet. They then design an algorithm, following the breakdown as provided in the spreadsheet, which they program in an introductory programming language.