Purpose: "We describe a three-stage model of computing instruction beginning with a simple, highly scaffolded programming environment (Kodu) and progressing to more challenging frameworks (Alice and Lego NXT-G). In moving between frameworks, students explore the similarities and differences in how concepts such as variables, conditionals, and looping are realized... we briefly report on our methodology and select preliminary results from a pilot study using this curriculum with students ages 10–17, including several with disabilities" (p. 609). "We conducted an evaluation of the pilot summer camp, focusing on participant outcomes in two primary areas: knowledge development and attitudes" (p. 613).
Findings: "Beginning students sometimes find the Alice interface intimidating due to the multiple panes and tabs. There is a fair amount of typing (e.g., method names, variable names, and numeric values), vs. no typing at all in Kodu except to make a character “speak”. And Alice’s drag-and-drop editing interface is not entirely intuitive" (p. 613). "As predicted, once students mastered the ideas of programming characters in a simulated world and switching between editing and execution modes, the transition to Alice went smoothly. NXT-G has semantics sufficiently so close to Alice, and its graphical interface so closely resembles a state machine diagram, that students took to it immediately. Working with physical robots is exciting for students [1, 16], and their enthusiasm was reflected in the survey responses. But NXT-G is not the ideal choice for the third stage of the framework precisely because it adds little beyond what students have encountered in Alice. Introducing students to robot programming is still a good idea, but at least with older students, it could be better done using more sophisticated robots and a more powerful programming formalism" (p. 614).
Sample Size: 31
Participant Type: "... conducted a five day CS4All summer camp at Auburn University in July 2012. Students were recruited from schools in Alabama and Georgia, and ranged in age from 10 to 17, with a mean age of 13.1" (p. 613). "Seven of the students self-identified as having one or more of the following disabilities: visual impairment (VI), Asperger’s syndrome (Asp), cerebral palsy (CP), or dyslexia" (p. 613).