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  1. This work extends previous research on subgoal labeled instructions by examining their effect across a semester-long, Java-based CS1 course. Across four quizzes, students were asked to explain in plain English the process that they would use to solve a programming problem. In this mixed methods study, we used the SOLO taxonomy to categorize student responses about problem-solving processes and compare students who learned with subgoal labels to those who did not. The use of the SOLO taxonomy classification allows us to look deeper than the mere correctness of answers to focus on the quality of the answers produced in terms of completeness of relevant concepts and explanation of relationships among concepts. Students who learned with subgoals produced higher-rated answers in terms of complexity and quality on three of four quizzes. Also, they were three times more likely to discuss issues of data type on a question about assignments and expressions than students who did not learn with subgoal labeling. This suggests that the use of subgoal labeling enabled students to gain a deeper and more complex understanding of the material presented in the course. 
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  2. Subgoal learning has improved student problem-solving performance in programming, but it has been tested for only one-to-two hours of instruction at a time. Our work pioneers implementing subgoal learning throughout an entire introductory programming course. In this paper we discuss the protocol that we used to identify subgoals for core programming procedures, present the subgoal labels created for the course, and outline the subgoal-labeled instructional materials that were designed for a Java-based course. To examine the effect of subgoal labeled materials on student performance in the course, we compared quiz and exam grades between students who learned using subgoal labels and those who learned using conventional materials. Initial results indicate that learning with subgoals improves performance on early applications of concepts. Moreover, variance in performance was lower and persistence in the course was higher for students who learned with subgoals compared to those who learned with conventional materials, suggesting that learning with subgoal labels may uniquely benefit students who would normally receive low grades or dropout of the course. 
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  3. There have been many calls recently for computing for all across the nation. While there are many opportunities to study and use computing to advance the fields of computer science, software development, and information technology, computing is also needed in a wide range of other disciplines, including engineering. Most engineering programs require students take a course that teaches them introductory programming, which covers many of the same topics as an introductory course for computing majors (and at times may be the same course). However, statistics about the success of a course that is an introductory programming course are sobering; approximately half the students will fail, forcing them to either repeat the course or leave their chosen field of study if passing the course is required. This NSF IUSE project incorporates instructional techniques identified through educational psychology research as effective ways to improve student learning and retention in introductory programming. The research team has developed worked examples of problems that incorporate subgoal labels, which are explanations that describe the function of steps in the problem solution to the learner and highlight the problem-solving process. Using subgoal labels within worked examples, which has been effective in other STEM fields, students are able to see an expert's problem solving process, which helps students learn to solving problems before they can solve problem themselves. Experts, including instructors, teaching introductory level courses are often unable to explain the process they use in problem solving at a level that learners can grasp because they have automated much of the problem-solving processes after many years of practice. This submission will present the results of the first part of development of subgoals and will explain how to integrate them into classroom lessons in introductory computing classes. 
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