Through a mixed-method analysis of data from Scratch, we examine how novices learn to program with simple data structures by using community-produced learning resources. First, we present a qualitative study that describes how community-produced learning resources create archetypes that shape exploration and may disadvantage some with less common interests. In a second quantitative study, we find broad support for this dynamic in several hypothesis tests. Our findings identify a social feedback loop that we argue could limit sources of inspiration, pose barriers to broadening participation, and confine learners' understanding of general concepts. We conclude by suggesting several approaches that may mitigate these dynamics.
Designing solution plans before writing code is critical for successful algorithmic problem-solving. Novices, however, often plan on-the-fly during implementation, resulting in unsuccessful problem-solving due to lack of mental organization of the solution. Research shows that subgoal learning helps learners develop more complete solution plans by enhancing their understanding of the high-level solution structure. However, expert-created materials such as subgoal labels are necessary to provide learning benefits from subgoal learning, which are a scarce resource in self-learning due to limited availability and high cost. We propose a learnersourcing workflow that collects high-quality subgoal labels from learners by helping them improve their label quality. We implemented the workflow into AlgoSolve, a prototype interface that supports subgoal learning for algorithmic problems. A between-subjects study with 63 problem-solving novices revealed that AlgoSolve helped learners create higher-quality labels and more complete solution plans, compared to a baseline method known to be effective in subgoal learning.
This paper describes the design of an online learning platform that empowers musical creation and performance with Python code. For this platform we have developed an innovative computational notebook paradigm that we call TunePad playbooks. While playbooks borrow ideas from popular computational notebooks like Jupyter, we have designed them from the ground up to support creative musical expression including live performances. After discussing our design principles and features, we share findings from a series of artifact-centered interviews conducted with experienced TunePad users. Our results show how systems like ours might flexibly support a variety of creative workflows, while suggesting opportunities for future work in this area.
Undergraduate Teaching Assistants(TAs) in Computer Science courses are often the first and only point of contact when a student gets stuck on a programming problem. But these TAs are often relative beginners themselves, both in programming and in teaching. In this paper, we examine the impact of availability of corrected code on TAs' ability to find, fix, and address bugs in student code. We found that seeing a corrected version of the student code helps TAs debug code 29% faster, and write more accurate and complete student-facing explanations of the bugs (30% more likely to correctly address a given bug). We also observed that TAs do not generally struggle with the conceptual understanding of the underlying material. Rather, their difficulties seem more related to issues with working memory, attention, and overall high cognitive load.