Learning Computer Programming Using Project-Based Collaborative Learning

Students’ Experiences, Challenges, and Outcomes


  • Dr. Wilson Osafo Apeanti University of Education
  • Mr. Daniel Danso Essel University of Education




Learning Computer Programming, Project-based learning, Project Groups, Project-based collaborative learning


The major concern of teaching computer programming in higher education is to provide students

with the skills necessary to integrate theory and practice. One of the methods most suited for this task is project-based collaborative learning (PBCL). This study provides an in-depth analysis of students’ experiences, levels of collaboration and challenges in learning computer programming in a PBCL setting. A survey of 428 students was selected from a population of 840 undergraduate computer programming students at all levels using a stratified random sampling technique. It was found that focusing programming courses on real problems made the course more interesting for students. The students gained new interpersonal skills and understood the technical concepts of the courses better. PBCL was found to be suitable for teaching lower level (level 100 and 200) undergraduate programming courses compared with higher level (level 300 and 400) courses. Students' challenges in PBCL computer programming courses include time allocation for projects, choosing appropriate problems and piggy riding in project groups. We expect the findings of this study to influence policy on the teaching of computer programming courses at the undergraduate level.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Dr. Wilson Osafo Apeanti, University of Education

Department of ICT Education



Allen, E., & Seaman, C. A. (2007). Likert Scales and Data Analyses. Quality Progress, 40, 64-65.

Barg, M., Fekete, A., Greening, T., Hollands, O., Kay, J., & Kingston, J. H. (2000). Problem-Based Learning for Foundation Computer Science Courses. Computer Science Education, 109-128. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1076/0899-3408(200008)10:2;1-C;FT109

Boone, H. N. & Boone, D. A (2012). Analyzing likert data. Journal of extension. 50(2) pp.

Bransford, J.D., Sherwood, R., Hasselbring, T., Kinzer, C. and Williams, S. (1990), 'Anchored instruction: why we need it and how technology can help' in Nix, D. and Spiro, R. (eds), Cognition, Education, and Multimedia: Exploring Ideas in High Technology, Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 115-42.

Collins, A., Brown, J.S. and Holum, A. (1991), 'Cognitive apprenticeship: making thinking visible' American Educator, Winter (6-11), 38-46.

Diehl, W., Grobe, T., Lopez, H., & Cabral, C. (1999). Project-based learning: A strategy for teaching and learning. Boston, MA: Center for Youth Development and Education, Corporation for Business, Work, and Learning.

Donnelly, R. (2005). Using Technology to Support Project and Problem-Based Learning. In: T. Barrett, I. Mac Labhrainn and H. Fallon, eds., Handbook of Enquiryy and Problem-Based Learning: Irish Case Studies and International Perspectives, 1st ed. Galway, Ireland: Celt, pp. 157-177.

Fraenkel, J. R., Wallen, N. E. & Hyan, H. H. (2012). How to design and evaluate research in education (8th ed.). New York:McGraw-Hill Publishing Co.

Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E. & Airasian, P. (2012). Educational research, competencies for analysis and application (10th Ed.) Boston: Pearson

Gross; Richard. (2010). Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. 6th Edition. London: Taylor & Francis

Han, S., & Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, learning by design, and project based learning. Available at: http://epltt.coe.uga.edu (Accessed 30 March 2019).

Huysken K., Olivey, H., McElmurry, K., Ming Gao, M., Avis, P. (2019) Assessing Collaborative, Project-based Learning Models in Introductory Science Courses. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 19(1). P.6-28. DOI:10.14434/josotl.v19i1.26777 DOI: https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v19i1.26777

Jones, B. F., Rasmussen, C. M., & Moffitt, M. C. (1997). Real-life problem solving.: A collaborative approach to interdisciplinary learning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/10266-000

Kapp, E. (2009). Improving student teamwork in a collaborative project-based course. College Teaching, 57(3), 139-143. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3200/CTCH.57.3.139-143

Kolodner, J. L., Camp, P. J., Crismond, D., Fasse, B., Gray, J., Holbrook, J., Puntambekar, S., & Ryan, M. (2003). Problem-based learning meets case-based reasoning in the middle-school science classroom: Putting learning by design into practice. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 12(4), 495-547. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327809JLS1204_2

Markham, T., Larmer, J. & Ravitz, J. (2003). Project Based Learning Handbook: A Guide to Standards-Focused Project Based Learning for Middle and High School Teachers. 2nd ed. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education.

Moursund, D. (1999). Project-based learning using information technology. International Society for Technology in Education.

Pawson, E., Fournier, E., Haigh, M., Muniz, O., Trafford, J. & Vajoczki, S. (2006). Problem-Based Learning in Geography: Towards a Critical Assessment of its Purposes, Benefits and Risks. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 30(1), pp. 103-116. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03098260500499709

Ramsden P (1991) A performance indicator of teaching quality in higher education: The course experience questionnaire. Studies in Higher Education, 16 (2), 129-150 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079112331382944

Razali, N. M., & Wah, Y. B. (2001). Power comparison of Shapiro-Wilk, Kolmogorov-Smirnov, Lilliefors and Andersong-Darling tests. Journal of statistical modelling and analytics 2(1), 21-33.

Romito, A. (2014). Peer assisted learning. Retrieved from http://www.essentialgptraining

Saukkonen, J. (2014). Effects of Project-Based Learning in Education-Enterprise Collaboration to Learning Experience and Students Engagement. [Online] Finnish Business Review. Available at:http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi:jamk-issn-2341-9938-4

Schmitt, N. (1996). Uses and abuses of coefficient alpha. Psychological Assessment, 8(4), 350–353. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-3590.8.4.350

Scott Grabinger, Joanna C. Dunlap & Judith A. Duffield (1997) Rich environments for active learning in action: Problem-based learning, ALT-J, (5)2, 5-17, DOI:10.1080/0968776970050202 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0968776970050202

Shapiro, S. S., & Wilk, M.B. (1965). An analysis of variance test for normality (Complete Samples). Biomerika, 56(3) 591-611. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/biomet/52.3-4.591

Shpeizer, R. (2019).Towards a Successful Integration of Project-based Learning in Higher Education: Challenges, Technologies and Methods of Implementation.Universal Journal of Educational Research 7(8): 1765-1771. DOI: 10.13189/ujer.2019.070815 DOI: https://doi.org/10.13189/ujer.2019.070815

Strobel, J., & van Barneveld, A. (2009). When is PBL More Effective? A Meta-Synthesis of Meta-Analyses Comparing PBL to Conventional Classrooms. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 3(1).Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1046 DOI: https://doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1046

Thomas, J. W. (2000). A Review of Research on Project-Based Learning. California: Autodesk Foundation.

Thomas, J. W., Mergendoller, J. R., and Michaelson, A. (1999). Project-based learning: A handbook for middle and high school teachers. Novato, CA: The Buck Institute for Education.




How to Cite

Apeanti, W. O., and D. Essel. “Learning Computer Programming Using Project-Based Collaborative Learning: Students’ Experiences, Challenges, and Outcomes”. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, vol. 9, no. 8, Aug. 2021, pp. 191-07, doi:10.31686/ijier.vol9.iss8.3278.
Received 2021-06-23
Accepted 2021-07-13
Published 2021-08-01