Over the summer, I ran a study with children ages 7-12 at a gaming summer camp in Winter Park, FL. The aim of this study was to begin to identify programming constructs students find motivating, and those they struggle with, in block-based environments. We ran the 1-week summer camp with three different student groups and interviewed students during the last two camps. In this study we interviewed students three times: At the beginning and end of the camp we asked students about their thoughts on programming. In the middle of the camp week we asked them questions about what they found easy, hard, and fun.
We’re currently analyzing the results of this study and hope to publish our findings soon! Long term, we hope this research will inform how students can most effectively learn languages and eventually transition to production languages. You can see our position paper on the subject here.
The qualitative coding process has been a great challenge for me to work through. In particular, very subtle differences in student responses have begun to emerge as I go over the data again after the first few passes which has informed my coding scheme. However, working through the data over multiple passes has helped me understand the difficulty and value of qualitative analysis.