Teaching Students To Use Programming Error Messages


Research shows many students struggle to use programming error and warning messages effectively. Instead of using these messages as aids to debug and fix their code, some students have negative emotional reactions to seeing ‘angry red text’. Not utilizing programming error and warning messages effectively, or at all, increases the difficulty of learning to program.As compiler messages can vary by programming language and/or development environment, lessons on reading them are not typically included in mainstream educational materials. We believe this gap can be filled and that students can learn to use error messages to their advantage. Further, we believe that teaching students how to read and use error messages can have a significant impact on the learning experience for novice programmers.The goal of this working group is to develop educational materials to teach students to use programming error messages, and evaluate the use of these materials. An additional goal is to investigate the role that large language models may play in the interpretation of error messages in the educational environment. We will produce guidelines for developing educational materials and strategies informed by feedback obtained from the community and our experimentation.

Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Global Computing Education Vol 2