The karate kid method of problem based learning

Fred Fonseca, Larry Spence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


The traditional introduction to computer programming course delivers lectures that meticulously describe language components and the way they work combined with homework and laboratory drills. The challenge of teaching introductory programming courses is: The students do not know enough to work on interesting and challenging projects. As a result, they are assigned small structured (toy) problems that do not engage their curiosity and allow them to try on their own. This results in little motivation and poor learning. Large numbers of students fail, drop, or complete courses without learning to program. In contrast, this introductory class enables students to learn programming languages by designing and implementing a computer game. Two obstacles must be overcome to make this work. The first is the students' anxiety when faced with a complex task they cannot do. The second issue is the menial and tedious practices they must undergo to master the tools required by the task. Imbedding structured problems within the requirements of a complex unstructured project helps resolve these issues. We describe this version of PBL using the pedagogical metaphor of the popular movie, the Karate Kid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInnovative Practices in Teaching Information Sciences and Technology
Subtitle of host publicationExperience Reports and Reflections
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9783319036564
ISBN (Print)3319036556, 9783319036557
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Computer Science


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