Purpose: "More recently, computing education researchers are beginning to recognize the need to apply the learning sciences to develop age- and grade-appropriate curricula and pedagogies for developing computational competencies among children. This paper presents the curriculum of an exploratory workshop that employed a discourse-intensive pedagogy to introduce middle school children to programming and foundational concepts of computer science through programming mobile apps in App Inventor for Android (AIA)" (p. 723).
Findings: "AIA helped us meet the primary goal of the workshop – that of providing a friendly platform that would allow novice middle school programmers to create exciting and fun apps. The thrill of hearing the first “meow” upon tapping the image on the screen was evident in the squeals, multiple utterances of “this is so cool” from around the table, as well as repetitive animal sounds as well as text-to-speech audio that filled the morning session as students repeatedly and excitedly tapped the screen or shook the phone. The complexity of the computational constructs that was demonstrated in the final projects by the end of the day was evidence of the completeness of the AIA feature set as a tool to expose novices to most all of the foundational elements of CS and CT that introductory computing curricula strive to cover. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly (given the pedagogy employed in this curriculum), was the AIA’s ability to foster natural engagement with the mechanics of programming and computational thinking through discussions and questions" (p. 726). "Evidence from Camtasia screen and webcam captures of conversations during the app programming process, as well as pre-post surveys are still being analyzed, but preliminary results reveal a significant growth in CS vocabulary as well as use of important CT elements in the context of building mobile apps." (p. 725).
Sample Size: 7
Participant Type: Students
Notes: Middle school children