Toward a Responsive Interface to Support Novices in Block-Based Programming


Block-based programming environments are often used for teaching novice students, including at the undergraduate level. Despite the simplification these tools offer, undergraduates still require additional support, often learning programming by themselves or in large section courses with little instructional support. Programming environments that provide adaptive support hold great promise for meeting this need. This paper presents the early design and piloting of Prime, a learning environment under development that provides scaffolded support for novices in block-based programming. A pilot study with Prime compared two implementations of the functionality for moving between programming subtasks: one with a static 'Next Step' button for advancing through subtasks at any time, and one with a responsive button that only appeared once the current subtask was completed. Analysis of students' code quality showed that students in the responsive condition achieved higher quality code in later programming tasks. The results highlight design considerations and opportunities for adaptively supporting novices in block-based programming.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding



Publication Date


Journal Title

Proceedings - 2019 IEEE Blocks and Beyond Workshop, B and B 2019