Abstract: Student programming errors, online education and studio-based learning (SBL) in computer science education have all been topics of recent research efforts. This study expands on this research applying this knowledge to proactively help students overcome their difficulties. This project coins the term virtual critical studio (VCS), and proposes it for proactive online teaching. The VCS consists of three components, the studio-based-learning pedagogy, the precise and critical timing and content of the VCS sessions and the virtual nature of the implementation environment. The implementation of VCS aims to provide a better quality of online computer science courses by promoting student-student interaction focused on the discussion of problematic curriculum issues.
Data collected prior to the application of VCS provided insights into common programming errors that were later used to create the assignments for the VCS sessions. This study compares online vs. VCS incarnations of the same course. In addition, it observes and analyzes the content of VCS sessions
The VCS like its predecessor SBL, has shown the potential to help novice programmers overcome their difficulties. The effects of this treatment show that students have an optimistic state of mind before, during and after VCS sessions. These effects do not exist for the control group. This research provides a unique insight into the VCS process including the identification of “learning moments”, student-student interaction and the building of camaraderie.