Original Research

Pair programming: more than just working together in pairs.

Elsa Mentz
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 31, No 1 | a32 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v31i1.32 | © 2012 Elsa Mentz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 May 2011 | Published: 18 April 2012

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Elsa Mentz, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa

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Pair programming originated in the industry where focus is placed on the development of a programme at the most costand time-effective manner, and within the parameters of quality. In this context, a specific programming code is not developed individually; rather, two people work together in order to ensure a higher quality programming code and to motivate each other to work at a faster pace. The problem with this approach was that novice programmers lacked the social skills to work in pairs as they had not been exposed to this sufficiently at tertiary level. The demand of the industry, especially in terms of programmers needing to be able to programme together, led to the incorporation of pair programming at tertiary level in the late nineties. The pedagogical principles on which any teaching-learning strategy should be built were, however, largely overlooked during this process. This article firstly looks into the semantic and ontological differences between co-operative and collaborative learning and secondly argues that pair programming, within the context of a social constructivist approach to teaching and learning, can be seen as a co-operative teaching-learning strategy. Pair programming is more than just allowing two students to work together on a programming task. The more structured way, in which pair programming needs to be implemented, concur with the principles of co-operative learning. The article concludes that the correct pedagogical application of pair programming as a co-operative teaching-learning strategy in tertiary education will result in improved learning capital.


Paarprogrammering; koöperatiewe leer; samewerkende leer; pedagogiese beginsels; programmeringsvaardighede


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