The Challenges of Studying Blocks-based Programming Environments — David Weintrop

Compare the following two versions of a program: Capture

In recent studies [1], it has been found that the Scratch version is easier to understand for students. David wonder how we explain the result? Is it because students find the infix < easier to interpret than the prefix greater? operator? Or maybe students are influenced by the colors, shapes, and nesting of the blocks make that form easier to parse? These two potential explanations highlight the conflation of language and modality, in one explanation the difference is a feature of the language (< vs. greater?) while the other attributes the difference to the modality (text vs. blocks display) These are the type of open challenges that you run into when comparing two different languages.

[1] C. M. Lewis, “How programming environment shapes perception, learning and goals: Logo vs. Scratch,” in Proc. of the 41st ACM Technical Symposium on CS Ed, New York, NY, 2010, pp. 346–350.