Programming for Non-Programmers: An Approach Using Creative Coding in Higher Education

Authors Teresa Terroso , Mário Pinto

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Author Details

Teresa Terroso
  • uniMAD - ESMAD, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal
Mário Pinto
  • uniMAD - ESMAD, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal

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Teresa Terroso and Mário Pinto. Programming for Non-Programmers: An Approach Using Creative Coding in Higher Education. In Third International Computer Programming Education Conference (ICPEC 2022). Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 102, pp. 13:1-13:8, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


Learning how to program can be a cumbersome task even for students who enroll in courses in the Computer Science field. It is well documented that computer programming courses have high failure rates and high drop out. Even at the initial stage of computer introduction courses, novice students often reveal difficulties and strong reactions to this subject. However, computer programming has been recognized as an essential skill and a necessary element in education in many different areas. This work reflects on the experience provided by teaching a Creative Programming course, being held as part of a Master’s degree curriculum in School of Media Arts and Design (ESMAD), at Polytechnic of Porto (P.PORTO), in Portugal. The students' background is not uniform, therefore pedagogical learning strategies had to be adapted to these multidisciplinary backgrounds to foster student attention and interest, as well as being able to achieve the goals of teaching the fundamentals of computer programming. This article reflects on the strategies to teach programming for non-informatics: drifting from the traditional functional way, like developing a program or product to solve a problem, to the usage of creative coding and generate interactive animations, while simultaneously achieving the ambitious goals of learning programming concepts and paradigms.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Computing methodologies
  • Applied computing → Computer-managed instruction
  • creative coding
  • programming learning
  • teaching methodologies
  • higher education
  • visual applications
  • interactive graphics
  • open-source tools


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