Dear All,

I have been reading this discussion with interest. Marian's message provoked 
further thought. In recent months (as part of my involvement in sports 
coaching), I have read a number of books that put forward the idea that rather 
than being the cause of something, talent/ability is actually the product of 
something, namely deep/purposeful/deliberate practice. When we see an 
individual who appears to have a natural talent or aptitude for something e.g. 
music, programming, sport we only see the tip of the iceberg and only when we 
study the individual more closely do we find out the true reasons behind their 
'talent'. These books use the stories of great sports stars (Tiger Woods, Jack 
Nicklaus), compsers (Mozart) and authors (Bronte sisters) to illustrate their 

In addition, they also rely heavily on work conducted by eminent American 
psychologists Carol Dweck and Anders Ericcson. For example an interesting study 
that emerges out of this work would be to test if expert programmers exhibit a 
growth versus a fixed mindset (Dewck expirement) see:

If I had lots of time I would assemble all of my readings into a coherent paper 
for PPIG and we could spend a while debating/discussing it.



Dr. Enda Dunican
Lecturer in Computing,
Dept. of Computing and Networking,
Institute of Technology Carlow,
Kilkenny Road,
ITel:  1-353-(0)59-9175525
5 Email:

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Blackwell [] 
Sent: 21 March 2011 11:59
To: Stefano Federici
Cc: Richard O'Keefe; Thomas Green; PPIG Listserve;
Subject: Re: URGENT: Testing Inclination to Programming 

I may have missed it, but I don't think I saw a reference to the 
series of studies by Beckwith and Burnett on self-efficacy as a 
significant factor leading to gender differences in early 
programming experiences.

If your experimental population includes a mix of males and
females, you may find that this is a significant effect. I would
strongly recommend recruiting balanced numbers of males and
females, and carrying out analyses that consider interaction of
self-efficacy and gender.

A typical study in this area, which shows *opposite* effects of 
an experimental intervention for males and females, is this one:

(Perhaps needless to say to you, but for the benefit of other
readers - if you carry out an experiment in which the
manipulation has opposite effects for two halves of the sample,
and don't take this into account during analysis, the overall
result will be highly inconclusive, resulting in large variance
and small mean difference).


> Dear All,
> I went through one of the suggested papers about self-efficacy  
> (Self-efficacy and mental models in learning to program, Ramalingam et  
> al, 2004). Unfortunately I'm at present totally unable to understand  
> the final results (path analysis of the model):
> post Self-Efficacy (R2 = .44) ==23*==> Performance - Grade (R2 = .30)
> Mental Model (R2 = .05) ==.40*==> Performance - Grade (R2 = .30)
> The paper says that "both what student know, as represented by their  
> internal mental model, and what they believe about themselves, as  
> represented by their self-efficacy, affect their performance in the  
> course."
> Is there a naive way of rephrasing the 23* and .40* weights on the  
> arrows from "post Self-Efficacy" to "Performance - Grade" and from  
> "Mental Model" to "Performance - Grade"? I mean, in terms of  
> percentages, meaningfulness or other.
> Thanks in advance for all the help you keep giving me
> Stefano
> Stefano Federici
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> Università degli Studi di Cagliari
> Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione
> Dipartimento di Scienze Pedagogiche e Filosofiche
> Via Is Mirrionis 1, 09123 Cagliari, Italia
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Alan Blackwell
Reader in Interdisciplinary Design, University of Cambridge
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