Computer science educators generally agree that abstract thinking is a crucial component for learning computer science in general and programming in particular. We report on a study to confirm the hypothesis that general abstraction ability has a positive impact on programming ability. Abstraction ability is operationalized as stages of cognitive development (for which validated tests exist). Programming ability is operationalized as grade in the final assessment of a model-based objects-first CS1. The validity of the operationalizations is discussed. Surprisingly, our study shows that there is no correlation between stage of cognitive development (abstraction ability) and final grade in CS1 (programming ability). Possible explanations are identified.
S I G C S E Bulletin Inroads, 2006, Vol 38, Issue 2, p. 39-43