Denner, J., Werner, L., Campe, S., & Ortiz, E. (2014). Pair Programming: Under What Conditions Is It Advantageous for Middle School Students? Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(3), 277-296.


Type: Empirical

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to contribute to knowledge about whether working with a partner is more advantageous than working alone, what are the benefits in working with a partner, and for whom is it more beneficial.

Findings: Pair programming is advantageous for computational thinking and increases in Alice programming knowledge regardless of time and quality of interaction. In the pair programming condition, the differences between partners influenced students' confidence, attitudes toward computing, and programming knowledge. A difference was detected between dyads that one partner with more computer experience produced higher computer confidence and more positive attitudes toward computing.

Recommendations: Future studies on pair programming should include larger sample size where statistical analyses can be taken into account. In-depth observations should be used to explore "the social dynamics that effect learning and performance" (p.287). A final recommendation is to study how partners influence each other and the various benefits and challenges when working with partners.


Sample Size: 320

Participant Type: 320 middle school students voluntarily enrolled in an after-school elective game programming course. Students randomly assigned to a pair (n=182) and students randomly assigned solo programming conditions (n=138). The age range was 10-14 years (mean=12). 63% were male and 37% were female. The sample demographics include: White (46%), Latino/a (37%).