Paper to appear at VL/HCC 2019!

The INIT Lab is happy to announce that PhD student (and full-time UF CISE lecturer) Jeremiah Blanchard‘s work has been accepted for publication at the upcoming VL/HCC conference: the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages & Human-Centric Computing. The conference will be held in Memphis, TN, in October. The paper presents findings on how middle school students learning computer programming in hybrid blocks-plus-text environments perceive their experience–does learning in hybrid environments help alleviate problems of perceptions in inauthenticity while still making programming accessible to novice learners?

Here is the abstract:

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

The camera-ready preprint of the paper is available here. If you’ll be at VL/HCC, come meet Jeremiah and see his presentation about our work!

PS Jeremiah also successfully proposed his dissertation successfully at the end of May!