Colors for Programming: A System to Support the Learning of Programming.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


University of Cork


Business and Public Management






This article was originally published as: Garner, S. K. (2002). Colors for programming: a system to support the learning of programming. Proceedings of IS2002: Informing Science and IT Education Conference. Cork, Ireland. University of Cork. Original article available here


Learning introductory software development is a difficult task and students often perceive programming subjects as requiring significantly more work than others. This paper describes a learning model for programming that has its basis in cognitive load theory. This theory suggests that there are three types of cognitive load that learners experience: intrinsic which is determined by the mental demands of the domain of knowledge; extraneous which is generated by the instructional format used in the teaching and learning process; and germane which can be utilised by learners to engage in conscious processing. The learning model is used as a basis, together with a particular instructional design framework, for the development of “COLORS (Cognitive Load Reduction System) for Programming”. COLORS is described together with a software tool, CORT (Code Restructuring Tool), that has been developed by the author to support various aspects of COLORS.