Pair Programming to Combat Student Struggles

This section is a place to share advice and recommendations for pair programming in your classrooms.

Pairing students who struggle with other students who are a little further along in an assignment can help the student to get the required skills and information necessary to work. Sometimes, pairings can help both students come along through an activity, while also increasing the understanding of both students. Building their confidence through class discussions and complimenting their work will also encourage struggling students to persevere through activities and they will eventually work individually.

What other recommendations or suggestions do you have for fellow teachers with students who learn at different paces?

I like to integrate pair programming into student’s debugging flow. Specifically, I tell them to ask themselves first, then ask a neighbor, and then ask the teacher. Most coding issues can be solved by two kids working together! The student who asked for help gains confidence that they can solve bugs with the support of their peers, and the student who helped solve the issue gains confidence that they can teach others what they’ve learned!

Pair programming is so powerful! I base my opinion on my own experiences in university learning to code as well as assisting teacher’s in the classroom.

Ultimately, I think it’s good to pair students with similar skill levels and to switch it up occasionally. For example, I think it works well to let students self assign their coding partner for their first project and then assign partners on the second project.

In my graduate program they thought A LOT about how groups were chosen in each of my programming classes and each professor had a different way of going about it.

Student collaboration is a big lever when learning to code. I recommend how groups are formed for different projects be taken into careful consideration.