Whiteboarding: A Tool to Improve CS1 Student Self-Efficacy

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Many students struggle in Introductory Computer Science (CS1) and fail or drop out of the class. A lack of CS self-efficacy - the belief that the individual can complete a task - is frequently the cause of this failure to succeed in CS1. Solutions have been proposed to improve student self-efficacy in CS1. Unfortunately, a lack of self-efficacy in CS1 classes is still a problem. This study examines a pedagogical tool, whiteboarding, and its effect on student perception of self-efficacy during the programming problem-solving process for novice programmers. Whiteboarding refers to students using whiteboards during the CS problem solving process. Focus group sessions, researcher notes, and memos were used to collect qualitative data. The whiteboarding intervention was conducted in two AP CS A classes during the first four weeks of the year. Seventeen 10th-grade students participated in the focus groups. Three focus groups of four students and one focus group of five students were conducted at the end of the intervention. These findings indicate that whiteboarding can be a vital tool that increases student self-efficacy by improving their success at programming activities, increasing collaboration and feedback, and providing an active, positive learning environment that holds students accountable for their work. The themes that emerged from the focus group sessions were: Engagement with the Problem, Engagement with Others, and Engagement with the Environment. Teaching success in the CS1 classroom requires student self-efficacy. This study highlights a teaching pedagogy that CS1 educators can implement to increase student self-efficacy.