Q: What is your goal with the initial exam, and what kind of questions do you ask? Does it help you gauge what level the students are, or do you have another purpose in mind?

Corser: First, I want to know how much the students already know about the material. If I teach material that is too advanced or too easy I’m wasting their time.

I also want to be able to compare how much people know about Java before they start the course and how much they know at the end so I can estimate how much they have learned. The initial exam consists of questions from the AP Java sample test. The final exam consists of similar questions, so I can make a fair comparison.

These questions are consistent and peer reviewed so they are well suited for publishing research papers on programming education. Someone needs to research the whole process of programming education to determine what works best. I’m gathering valuable data for this research.