Paper on the Impact of Programming Worked Examples Accepted to SIGCSE

We will be at SIGCSE this year, where Rui will present our paper on “Exploring the Impact of Worked Examples in a Novice Programming Environment.” The paper evaluated the Peer Code Helper system, which presents partial worked example code with scaffolded self-explanation prompts. Our results show that these worked examples help students start the programming task quicker, but this advantage fades as students continue to work on the assignment.

Check out the abstract:

Research in a variety of domains has shown that viewing worked examples (WEs) can be a more efficient way to learn than solving equivalent problems. However, only a few studies have explored the effect of WEs in the domain of programming and even fewer in block-based programming environments. We designed a system to display WEs, along with scaffolded self-explanation prompts, in a block-based, novice programming environment called Snap!. We evaluated our system and the impact of programming WEs during a high school summer camp with 22 students. Participants completed three programming problems and had access to WEs on either the first or second problem. ¬†We found that access to WEs did not significantly impact students’ learning, but they may have lowered students’ intrinsic cognitive load. Students who had WEs completed more objectives in the programming problems, but this difference was not significant. Our results suggest that WEs save students time initially, compared to writing code, but afterwards students need time to process the WE. We find that WEs have the potential to improve students’ learning efficiency when programming, but that these effects are nuanced and merit further study.

Also, keep a lookout for our paper co-authored with the Game2Learn lab on “Defining Tinkering Behavior in Open-ended Block-based Programming Assignments.”