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The Appreciation of Beauty as a Motivation for Learning Computer Programming

Yasuhiro Takemura Department of Character Creative Arts Osaka University of Arts takemura@mxw.mesh.ne.jp Hideo Nagumo Department of Social Welfare and Psychology Niigata Seiryo University nagumo@n-seiryo.ac.jp Abstract
The purpose of this study is to analyze whether the appreciation of beauty can be a motivation for the students in the art design area to learn computer programming. For this study, Processing programming environment will be used because it can produce fine artworks with relatively simple codes. The teaching materials used in this study will be designed in accordance with the ARCS motivation model so that the appreciation of the artworks in the Processing windows would motivate the students to learn programming. These teaching materials will be used by the students in the art design area, and the motivation levels of the students will be evaluated using the SIEM assessment standard.

Kenichi Matsumoto Graduate School of Information Science Nara Institute of Science and Technology matumoto@is.naist.jp

1. Introduction
Nowadays, it is not easy to motivate students to learn computer programming even if they are in computer science or engineering area [1]. However, there are cases where we have to teach programming to the students who are neither in computer science nor in engineering area. In these cases, we face a lot of difficulties in motivating the students to learn because they cannot clearly relate computer programming to their careers. This problem is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century as computing and programming is spanning every technical and non-technical subject of studies. The purpose of this study is to analyze whether the appreciation of beauty can be a motivation for the students in the art design area to learn computer programming. For this purpose, Processing programming environment [2] will be used because of the following reasons: (1) The result of programming is an artwork which is suitable for our purpose, (2) Fine artworks can be created from relatively simple codes, (3) It is open source and is widely available, (4) The syntax in Processing is similar to the one in Java, which is a widely used programming language. Many students in the art design area use computer applications to create their works today. Those students need to learn the mechanisms of computer applications and the structures of data they use, in order to improve their environments of creation, and to make their activity more efficient [3]. For that reason, somewhat deep knowledge of software is necessary for the students, and the knowledge comes from programming and from the accompanying mastery of algorithms. Therefore, programming education is important for the students in the art design area. The followings are the expected effects of programming education for those students: The students will be able to understand algorithms and computer programs The students will be able to understand the algorithms of figure drawing

Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training Workshops (CSEETW06) 0-7695-2647-0/06 $20.00 2006

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The students will be able to use programming to create their works The students will be able to create a series of related works by just changing some parameters The knowledge of computer programs will make it easier for the students to learn the operations of drawing tools The students will be able to use programs to process files in different formats The students will have positive attitude toward digital processing The students will be able to broaden their area of activities. The teaching materials used in this study will be designed in accordance with the ARCS motivation model [4] so that the appreciation of the artworks in the Processing windows would motivate the students to learn programming. These teaching materials will be used by the students in the art design area, and the motivation levels of the students will be evaluated using the SIEM assessment standard introduced by Dohi, Miyakawa, and Konno [5].

2. The ARCS motivation model


The ARCS motivation model introduced by J. M. Keller [4] is an educational theory that describes the factors of motivation to learn. This model assumes that there are four factors in motivation: attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. This model also gives the lower level categories for the motivation characteristics of each factor, and includes the examples of teaching strategies to stimulate and maintain each motivation element. In the following subsections, the strategies to design the teaching materials of Processing that satisfy the factors of motivation are presented. 2.1. Attention The first factor of motivation in the ARCS model is attention. To be motivated for learning, attention of the students must be aroused and maintained. This motivation characteristic has three lower level categories: perceptual arousal, inquiry arousal, and variability.

(a) Fig. 1 Example Processing artworks

(b)

Perceptual arousal is meant to arouse attention by using the visual function of the computer. The appreciation of beauty in the Processing windows can be naturally used as this stimulus. The computational beauty of nature [6] and mathematical illustrations would arouse interest of the students in the art design area. However, the teaching materials should be

Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training Workshops (CSEETW06) 0-7695-2647-0/06 $20.00 2006

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carefully designed so that the relation between an artwork and the programming codes behind it would be clearly understood. For example, the artwork in Fig. 1 (a) can be used to teach data types of variables. In this figure, the difference between int data type and float data type is presented with the bar graphs. The graphs portray natural irregularity that arose in the simple calculations. Also, the artwork in Fig. 1 (b), created by nested for loop statements, can be used to teach repetition. In the same way, conditional branch can be taught using cellular automata, recursion with fractals, and so forth. Inquiry arousal is meant to arouse curiosity of the students. One strategy for raising the students curiosity levels is to reverse the order of the teaching process: Instead of asking students to write codes and then run them, letting students watch a beautiful artwork first and then guess the codes that created it. Variability is important for maintaining students interest. In order to arouse variability, artworks can be changed from still images to moving images, and to the artworks that receive mouse or key inputs. 2.2. Relevance The second factor of the ARCS motivation model is relevance. Even if the students find it interesting to work with Processing, they might ask why they should learn computer programming, and wonder if there is any relation between programming and their sense of value, experiences, career, and so on. If these questions are answered adequately, the motivation levels of the students will be raised. This motivation characteristic has three lower level categories: familiarity, goal orientation, and motive matching. The common strategy for enhancing familiarity is to use the examples that students are familiar with. In this study, for example, the students in the character design area can be asked to make characters move in the window. Goal Orientation can be achieved by clearly stating the goal of the class. Therefore the importance of the computer programming for the students in the art design area should be clearly stated. In order to achieve motive matching, students with different motives should be given different assignments. Therefore, it will be a good strategy to group the students who have similar motives. In this case, feedback from students should be collected frequently to find their motives. 2.3. Confidence The third factor of the ARCS motivation model is confidence. This motivation characteristic has three lower level categories: learning requirements, success opportunities, and personal control. In many exercises of Processing, results of students do not need to be exactly the same as the example artworks. Therefore, students may create better artworks (at least for them), and such situations will make the students feel confidence. In the case of free design assignments, the students will use their own creativity to create their original works, in which case the students will be able to attribute their success to their own talent. 2.4. Satisfaction The fourth factor of the ARCS motivation model is satisfaction. This motivation characteristic has three lower level categories: natural consequences, positive consequences, and equity. In the case of Processing programming, the results of each students effort are the artworks. Therefore, the exercises must be designed in such a way that the resulting artworks are attractive and worth looking at. Also, the students have to be encouraged to create artworks that satisfy themselves when working on the free design assignments.

Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training Workshops (CSEETW06) 0-7695-2647-0/06 $20.00 2006

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3. Analyzing students motivation


As mentioned in Section 2, obtaining feedback from students is important for analyzing their motivation. For this purpose, the SIEM assessment standard will be used. The SIEM assessment standard is a metric that can be used to objectively measure students motivation levels to learn programming. It uses the ARCS motivation model [4] as the background theory. To monitor students motivation levels, the questionnaires containing some evaluation items are supposed to be filled out by the students frequently. The twelve evaluation items in the standard are related to the sub-factors of the ARCS motivation model. Nine more items have been added to form, in total, twenty-one items. Each item is presented using a five-point Likert Scale. These items will be modified in such a way that they can be used to analyze whether the appreciation of beauty can motivate the learning of computer programming. Though all of the items are used for evaluating students motivation levels, there are two particular items that are used to calculate motivation index. One is a question relating to importance, and it goes Do you think studying computer programming is crucial? Another is a question relating to expectancy, and it goes Do you think you would like to gain more computer knowledge and skills? Analyzing the transition of the motivation index with time is considered to be important in the SIEM assessment standard.

4. Future Work
The first phase of the research is to design the syllabus of the programming course for the students in the art design area. This will be done by designing teaching materials so that they follow the descriptions in the motivation factors in the ARCS model. In this process, each learning item and the resulting artworks should be clearly related. For example, if fractals are used to teach recursion, the artwork should be designed in such a way that the growth of a shape should be clearly noticeable as the depth of recursion increases. Also, the modification of the evaluation items of the SIEM assessment standard will be made in the first phase. The second phase is to conduct the class using the teaching materials mentioned above, and to get the feedback from the students using the SIEM assessment standard after every class. The feedback from the students will be analyzed in accordance with the SIEM standards analyzing method.

References
[1] M. Feldgen and O. Clua, Games as a Motivation for Freshman Students to Learn Programming, Proceedings of 34th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, 2004, Session S1H, pp. 11-16. [2] Processing 1.0 (BETA), http://processing.org/ [3] Y. Takemura, K. Matsumoto, K. Inoue, and K. Torii, A statistical analysis on the order of understanding for the Java programming language, Proceedings of the 7th World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (SCI2003), vol. 16, pp. 294-299, Orlando, USA, July 2003. [4] J. M. Keller and K. Suzuki, Use of the ARCS motivation model in courseware design (Chapter 16), In D. H. Jonnasen (Ed.), Instructional designs for microcomputer courseware, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, USA, 1987. [5] S. Dohi, O. Miyakawa, N. Konno, Analysis of the Introduction To the Computer Programming Education by the SIEM Assessment Standard, Proceedings of 6th International Conference of Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training , 2005, Session F4A, pp. 8-13. [6] G. W. Flake, The Computational Beauty of Nature : Computer Explorations of Fractals, Complex Systems, and Adaptation, The MIT Press, USA, 1998.

Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training Workshops (CSEETW06) 0-7695-2647-0/06 $20.00 2006

IEEE