A comparison of Nassi-Shneiderman and pseudocode as a planning aid for novice programmers in designing and developing structured BASIC programs

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bobby N. Irby

Advisor Department



This research was designed as a comparative study of two program planning methods, one graphical and one textual, as an aid for the design and development of structured BASIC programs by novice programming students. Fifty-eight students from a small liberal arts college in Mississippi were chosen to participate in this study and were given subsequent instruction in the use of either pseudocode or Nassi-Shneiderman diagrams as a program planning aid. The students in the two groups were given identical instruction by the same instructor except for the treatment. The subjects in both groups were required to develop appropriate plans and BASIC programs using the treatment methods. The BASIC programs developed by the students were evaluated by two independent programming experts as to their correctness and structured quality. These measures constitute two of the dependent variables. The other two dependent variables were determined by the scores on a comprehensive BASIC final exam and the total laboratory time required by the students in developing a solution. Additional variables, mathematics ACT, English ACT, college grade point average, and a researcher designed test of simple algebra and logic were used as covariates in developing a multiple linear regression analysis of each of the dependent variables. The results indicate that there is no difference between Nassi-Shneiderman diagrams and pseudocode as a program planning aid when the dependent measures to be considered are correctness and structured quality of the programs developed. However, there was a significant difference between the two treatments on the comprehensive BASIC final examination and in the total laboratory time used by each student.