Problematic and Persistent Post-Secondary Program Performance Preconceptions

Shriram Krishnamurthi, Anika Bahl, Benjamin H. Lee, Steven A. Sloman

Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research, 2022


Student conceptions about program ‘‘efficiency’’ shape their approach to programming and problem-solving. However, we know very little about the kinds of conceptions students have on entry into post-secondary education. In this paper we present the result of multiple iterations of a study where we ask students to rank programs on efficiency. We find students have several misconceptions across the iterations. We attempt to employ two standard techniques for puncturing people’s illusions of understanding, but both have only limited success: students have strongly-held opinions despite their frequent errors. Post-secondary education about program efficiency needs to take much more account of students’ pre-conceptions.


The supplemental materials for the paper are here.



These papers may differ in formatting from the versions that appear in print. They are made available only to support the rapid dissemination of results; the printed versions, not these, should be considered definitive. The copyrights belong to their respective owners.