Former INIT Lab PhD student Jeremiah Blanchard is continuing to wrap up publication of his final dissertation-related studies and data analysis. We are proud to announce that he has recently had a paper accepted to the upcoming ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Technical Symposium! His final study focused on investigating the use of dual-modality (blocks and text) programming instruction and tools/environments in college-level introductory programming classes. Here is the abstract:
Dual-modality blocks-text programming environments have shown promise in helping students learn programming and computational thinking. These environments link blocks-based visualizations to text-based representations, which are more typical of production languages. Since prior work shows that some students who learn in dual-modality environments outperform those who learn in text on assessments, we sought to understand specifically how students use dual-modality environments and what support these environments provide to the learning process. We analyzed survey responses and tool logs collected during a study at a large public university in a CS1 course (N=425). We found that students from all prior programming experience backgrounds made use of the ability to visualize code structures by using blocks. Students with prior experience in blocks or no prior experience said they felt the dual-modality instruction helped them understand code structure and meaning. As students progressed through the class, we found that they made more use of the blocks mode’s reference palettes than to its drag-and-drop facilities or mode-switching features. By identifying how students interact with dual-modality tools and how they impact student understanding, this work provides guidance for classroom instructors.
You can read the camera-ready version of the paper here. Dr. Blanchard will be presenting this work at the ACM SIGCSE conference, which will be an all-virtual event to be held in March 2021. We wish him much luck!