Bootstrap is a computer-programming curriculum that teaches students to program video games using Racket, a functional programming language based on algebraic syntax. This study investigated the relationship between learning to program video games from a Bootstrap course and the resulting effect on students' understanding of algebra. Courses in three different schools, lasting about six weeks each, were studied. Control and treatment groups were given a pre and post algebra assessment. A qualitative component consisting of observations and interviews was also used to further triangulate findings. Statistical analysis revealed that students who completed the Bootstrap course gained a significantly better understanding of variables and a suggestive improvement in understanding functions. In the assessments, students failed to demonstrate a transfer of the advanced concepts of function composition and piecewise functions from programming to algebraic notation. Interviews with students demonstrated that with coaching, students were able to relate functions written in Racket to functions written in algebraic notation, but were not yet able to transfer their experience of function composition from programming to algebra.
College and Department
Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Lee, Robert, "Teaching Algebra through Functional Programming:An Analysis of the Bootstrap Curriculum" (2013). All Theses and Dissertations. 3519.
Bootstrap, Racket, functional programming, algebra, functions, variables