Building Bridges: Dual-Modality Instruction and Introductory Programming Coursework

Building Bridges: Dual-Modality Instruction and Introductory Programming Coursework


Blanchard, J.J. 2020. Building Bridges: Dual-Modality Instruction and Introductory Programming Coursework. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, University of Florida. May 2020. [PDF]


“Blocks-based programming environments have become commonplace in introductory computing courses in K-12 schools and some college level courses. In comparison, most college-level introductory computer science courses teach students text-based languages which are more commonly used in industry and research. However, the literature provides evidence that students may face difficulty moving to text-based programming environments even when moving from blocks-based environments, and some perceive blocks-based environments as inauthentic. Bi-directional dual-modality programming environments, which provide multiple representations of programming language constructs (such as blocks and text) and allow students to transition between them freely, offer a potential solution to issues of authenticity and syntax challenges for novices and those with prior experience in blocks by making clear the connection between blocks and text representations of programs. While previous research has investigated transition from blocks-based to textual environments, there is limited research on dual-modality programming environments.

The goal of my dissertation work is to identify how use of bi-directional dual-modality programming environments connects with learning in introductory programming instruction at 15 the college level. I have developed a bi-directional dual-modality Java language plugin and evaluated the use of said tool within an introductory computer science (CS1) course. In my work I analyzed understanding and retention of specific computing / programming concepts, how any connections vary according to prior programming experience, and in what ways dual-modality programming environments affect the classroom learning experience.”