The CompSci Affective Filter

In the 1980s, Stephen Krashen wrote about the affective filter hypothesis. The concept of the affective filter was first proposed –according to Krashen — by Dulay and Burt in 1977 as an obstacle to language learning. In Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition (1982) Krashen identifies three categories of affective variables that relate to success in second language acquisition:

  1. Motivation. Performers with high motivation generally do better in second language acquisition(usually, but not always, “integrative”)
  2. Self-confidence. Performers with self-confidence and a good self-image tend to do better in second language acquisition.
  3. Anxiety. Low anxiety appears to be conducive to second language acquisition, whether measured as personal or classroom anxiety.

Can the Affective Filter hypothesis be applied to learning Computer Science? In the next few years, I will take a deeper look at if/how these concepts and theories — originally developed for the acquisition of a second language also apply to learning computer science and programming languages.

For those who don’t know my background, I am a computer science teacher who taught Spanish (my first language) for ten years. I have been teaching computer science since 2011. Not surprisingly, my background in second language acquisition (Spanish minor & Spanish Teaching Credential – CA) is very relevant and applicable in the teaching of Computer Science. I look forward to writing more about this research interest.

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