Look What I Can Do: Acquisition of Programming Skills in the Context of Living Labs

Mazyar Seraj, Cornelia Große, Serge Autexier, Rolf Drechsler

In: 41st ACM/IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE’19). International Conference on Software Engineering Advances (ICSEA-41) May 25-31 Montréal Quebec Canada 2019.


There is scientific knowledge about how to teachsoftware programming, and the necessity to foster young learn-ers’ interest in computer science is broadly addressed. However,there is a lack of research on how to teach programming skills in away that increases the learners’ interest in the topic. We presenta training session for young students, in order to support theacquisition of programming skills and, at the same time, a positiveview towards computer science. The programming environmentis based on a visual block-based application within a living lab.Thus, the abstract concept of software programming is presentedwithin a real context and tightly connected to real experiences.In this training, the learners were introduced to a living laband to programming concepts in order to acquire basics of pro-gramming. Two user studies with 44 7thand 8thgrade studentswere conducted, specifically, the students’ interest in computerscience and their acquisition of programming skills were assessed.Two instructional interventions to support knowledge acquisition,namely worked examples and instructional procedures, werecompared. The results did not strongly support one of theseinstructional interventions, thus, both seem to be appropriate inorder to help learners to acquire basic programming skills. Insum, the results show that the tight connection of the trainingsession to a real-world scenario can foster programming skills.This paper contributes by showing the potential of using visualblock-based programming in the context of living labs in orderto enable students to begin with programming activities


German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz