The Error Landscape: Characterizing the Mistakes of Novice Programmers


The software development process often follows a circuitous path, littered with mistakes and backtracks. This is particularly true for novice programmers, who typically navigate through a variety of errors en route to their final solution. This paper presents a quantitative analysis of a large dataset of Python programs written by novice students. The analysis paints a multifaceted picture of the errors that students encounter, providing insight into the distribution, duration, and evolution of these errors. Ultimately, this paper aims to incite further conversation on the mistakes made by novice programmers, and to inform the decisions instructors make as they help students overcome these mistakes.

Proceedings of the ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE)