Enhancing student engagement through simulation in programming sessions

Sakirulai Isiaq, Md Golam Jamil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of a simulator for teaching programming to foster student engagement and meaningful learning.

An exploratory mixed-method research approach was adopted in a classroom-based environment at a UK university. A rich account of student engagement dimensions (behavioural, affective/emotional, and cognitive) was captured through descriptive and inferential statistical analysis. This was triangulated through reflective and in-depth validation of open-ended questions.

Results show higher behavioural and emotional engagement in simulator-based sessions, but relatively low cognitive engagement when compared with traditional programming sessions. A strong interweaving relationship between these three dimensions is evident in both the traditional and simulator approaches. Therefore, a balanced distribution of the dimensions is recommended for effective planning and delivery of programming sessions.

Research limitations/implications
Student engagement is multidimensional as it includes various internal and external/ecological factors. This study did not consider external factors, such as family and societal influence; it focused on the classroom-based environment.

This study critically examined the use of simulation as a means to foster student engagement in programming sessions. Findings suggest that a balanced activities within the three engagement dimensions can facilitate meaningful learning.

Programming, Student engagement, Classroom environment, Engagement dimensions (behavioural, emotional and cognitive), Meaningful learning, Simulator
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Information and Learning Technology
Issue number2
Early online date31 Dec 2009
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2018


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