Debugging: Coding is More than Learning Programming Languages
Coding teaches kids so much about technology and prepares them for a world in which technology is an interwoven element of jobs in a variety of industries. Most companies are currently having problems finding employees trained in web development areas. It also teaches them real-world skills like teamwork, problem-solving, and perseverance. The latter two skills are the taught as students work through problems with coding. It is called debugging.
Debugging is the process of identifying and fixing problems with code. Programs can malfunction for a variety of reasons. It takes patience and a good eye to find what the problem is and then to figure out a way to fix it. When students work together to debug a program, they develop collaboration skills.
Debugging gets students to persist when they are frustrated. Students are motivated to find and repair their lines of code when the problems are in the programs that they have created. For example, a student who has created a game with his own lines of code may find that one of the functions of a character in the game does not work properly. The student is intrinsically motivated to find the problem and fix it because he led the design of the game. He is interested in seeing the problem solved because he has a personal stake in the project and wants to see it succeed.
In a lesson plan about coding that is written to teach elements of coding without the use of a computer or tablet, Thinkersmith included an easy way for students to learn about debugging. Students write “code” – directions – for a “robot” to follow – maybe paper cups or a teacher. When there is a problem with how the “robot” performs, students have to find out where the problem occurred and then solve it.
Debugging helps students find logical solutions to problems and to think analytically. They identify a problem and then break down its components to best see how to solve it. Debugging is more than just a small part of learning to code. It is a vital element. Learning how to rethink a problem and innovate a solution is necessary for programming and also for real life.
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