Study Results: What Errors Do Beginners Make Learning HTML and CSS?
I had the honor to serve on Tom Park’s dissertation committee and got to see this work unfold. It’s important to do. Computer scientists are happy to tell you that “HTML is not really programming,” and that’s true. But what computing education researchers need to realize is that HTML is a formal, computing-interpreted notation — probably the first one that most computing students ever face. Understanding what works and doesn’t there is important to understanding what’s hard about formal computing representations at all, versus what’s complicated because it’s programming. For example, over 50% of the knowledge-based errors that were observed in the study were never resolved. That’s the definition of a hard problem that’s worth understanding to improve education. It’s also important to consider — are those also learning difficulties that we see in programming?
In the end, the number of errors under the three aforementioned categories broke down as follows:
70.9% of all errors were skill-based errors.
16.9% were rule-based errors.
12.1% were knowledge-based errors.
As mentioned, most of the errors were resolved during the task completion process, but some were not, and they broke down like this:
4.3% of all skill-based errors were unresolved.
39.6% of rule-based errors were unresolved.
52.1% of knowledge-based errors were unresolved.