Student Perceptions of Code Representation

Presenting at the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC) 2019

Text languages are perceived by many computer science students as difficult, intimidating, and/or tedious in nature. Conversely, blocks-based environments are perceived as approachable, but many students see them as inauthentic. Bidirectional hybrid environments provide textual and blocks-based representations of the same code, thereby offering students the opportunity to seamlessly transition between representations to build a conceptual bridge between blocks and text. However, it is not known how use of hybrid environments impacts perceptions of programming. To investigate, we conducted a study in a public middle school with six classes (n=129). We found that students who used hybrid environments perceived text more positively than those who moved directly from blocks to text. The results of this research suggest that hybrid programming environments can help to transition students from blocks to text-based programming while minimizing negative perceptions of programming.

Blanchard, J., Gardner-McCune, C., & Anthony, L. (2019, October). Effects of code representation on student perceptions and attitudes toward programming. In 2019 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC) (pp. 127-131). IEEE.

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