Motivating Students Through Positive Learning Experiences: A Comparison of Three Learning Designs for Computer Programming Courses


  • Marianne Lykke Aalborg University
  • Mayela Coto
  • Christian Jantzen
  • Sonia Mora
  • Niels Vandel



PBL, Programming education, LEGO Mindstorm robots


Based on the assumption that wellbeing influences learning, the aim of this paper is to provide insight  into students’ emotional responses to different learning designs. By comparing three different learning designs their respective influence on students’ feelings about and motivation for learning is discussed.

This experimental, controlled comparison study was conducted in an introductory computer programming course. The three learning designs were: 1. A classical teacher-lead course; 2. A problem based learning (PBL) course; and 3. A PBL course combined with the use of LEGO Mindstorms Robots.

Three different studies were used for data collection: 1. A questionnaire survey with 229 students from groups exposed to the three different learning designs; 2. Six qualitative walk-alongs collecting data from these groups by informal interviews and observations; 3. Class room observations. Findings from the three studies were discussed in three focus group interviews with 10 students from each learning design.

The research was conducted among first year students in Computer Science at the Informatics School, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica.