Research support-oriented MATLAB learning: tackling difficult concepts and promoting personalised learning

Chunhua Yang, David Smith


This study investigated the acquisition of MATLAB programming skills by postgraduate students, and whether this learning was improved by research support-oriented teaching. Questionnaire surveys were given to academic staff asking about what they considered the most important knowledge and skills in programming to be. Questionnaire surveys were also given to students asking about what programming concepts they found the most difficult and confusing to understand. The intersection between what knowledge and skills in programming the researchers deemed the most important, and what areas in programming students had most difficulty with, was carefully addressed in subsequent teaching in a module teaching the essentials of programming to postgraduate students. Student learning performance, as measured by examination marks on the module, before and after the intersection concepts were emphasised was compared. The student learning performance improvement, together with interviews to students about their perceptions about programming, suggests that teaching oriented to research support is effective at increasing student understanding of programming in MATLAB.

Keywords: Programming; MATLAB; Research support


Programming; MATLAB; Research support

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New Directions in the Teaching of Physical Sciences

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