Experiences from placing Stack Overflow at the core of an intermediate programming course

Martín López-Nores, Yolanda Blanco-Fernández, Jack F. Bravo-Torres, José J. Pazos-Arias, Alberto Gil-Solla, Manuel Ramos-Cabrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectivist methodologies do not align well the learning requirements of modern-day computer science and software engineering, and major universities are moving from the old standards towards “learning by doing” approaches. We discuss the redesign of an intermediate Computer Programming course taught at the University of Vigo (Spain), seeking to promote question-and-answer websites for programmers as the main source of reference for the students, and turning the teacher into a permanent observer who delivers pertinent advice. The change of programming language, from Java to JavaScript, is also justified. A comparative experiment was conducted with 126 undergraduate students in Vigo (Spain) and Cuenca (Ecuador), revealing advantages in terms of understanding (22% increase in comprehension of new programming constructs), problem-solving capabilities (16% improvement in correct operation of the developed systems) and even greater clarity in communication and documentation (53% better), along with positive perceptions by the students (19% increase).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-707
Number of pages10
JournalComputer Applications in Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • Q&A fora for programmers
  • constructivist theories
  • experiential learning
  • higher education
  • workplace culture


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