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Journal of Computing Science and Engineering (JCSE), Volume 13, Number 1, March 2019, pp. 1-10 Abstract: Nowadays, the interest of young people in programming is decreasing steadily on a global scale. This, however, is becoming a problem for global economic development. The dynamic development of technologies requires the implementation of new teaching and learning methods. As a result, new Computer Science courses related to programming in primary education have been introduced. Pupils learn the basics and the programming skills using new visual programming languages known as block-based programming languages that allow the design of programming algorithms (program logic) using drag-and-drop of program chunks, named blocks. This makes the programming languages easy to use even by young children. The lack of a reasonable argument for the choice of block-based programming languages based on their functional characteristics, interface and children's preference prompted this investigation. This article discusses some of the modern block-based programming languages. Research into state-of-the-art scientific publications on this issue has been done. The criteria for comparing and analyzing these programming languages have been defined. As a result, the block-based programming languages that best meet the criteria have been identified. Two languages (Scratch and have been selected based on the proposed methodology. These languages were used for two weeks by pupils in the 3rd and 4th grades in Bulgaria. The main goal of this study is to determine the degree of similarity between block-based and traditional programming languages, as well as discuss the opportunity for their use in the Bulgarian primary school. The proposed methodology can be easily adapted and used in other countries. An important factor in this research is the support available in the pupils' native language for the integrated development environment and programming languages.
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Copyright 2019. The Korean Institute of Information Scientists and Engineers pISSN: 1976-4677 eISSN: 2093-8020
Regular Paper
Journal of Computing Science and Engineering,
Vol. 13, No. 1, March 2019, pp. 1-10
A Methodology for the Analysis of Block-Based Programming
Languages Appropriate for Children
Radoslava Kraleva* and Velin Kralev
Department of Informatics, South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria,
Dafina Kostadinova
Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
Nowadays, the interest of young people in programming is decreasing steadily on a global scale. This, however, is
becoming a problem for global economic development. The dynamic development of technologies requires implementation
of new teaching and learning methods. As a result, new Computer Science courses related to programming in primary
education have been introduced. Pupils learn the basics and the programming skills using new visual programming languages
known as block-based programming languages that allow the design of programming algorithms (program logic) using
drag-and-drop of program chunks, named blocks. This makes the programming languages easy to use even by young
children. The lack of a reasonable argument for the choice of block-based programming languages based on their functional
characteristics, interface and children’s preference prompted this investigation. This article discusses some of the modern
block-based programming languages. Research into the state-of-the-art scientific publications on this issue has been
done. The criteria for comparing and analyzing these programming languages have been defined. As a result, the block-
based programming languages that best meet the criteria have been identified. Two languages (Scratch and
have been selected based on the proposed methodology. These languages were used for two weeks by pupils in the 3rd
and 4th grades in Bulgaria. The main goal of this study is to determine the degree of similarity between block-based and
traditional programming languages, as well as discuss the opportunity for their use in the Bulgarian primary school. The
proposed methodology can be easily adapted and used in other countries. An important factor in this research is the support
available in the pupils’ native language for the integrated development environment and programming languages.
Category: Compilers / Programming Languages
Keywords: Block-based programming languages; Programming language for children; Human-computer
interaction; Computational thinking; Computer science education
The fast-paced, over-technological lifestyle has revealed
new aspects of modern programming. Today, the textual
programming environments, which until recently have
been the main mode of programming, have paved the
way to visual programming languages. They have evolved
into environments that allow programming based on the
Received 10 October 2017; Revised 26 January 2019; Accepted 27 January 2019
*Corresponding Author
Open Access
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Journal of Computing Science and Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 1, March 2019, pp. 1-10
Radoslava Kraleva et al.
use of readily available program blocks and in some
cases, the real source code remains hidden. These new
visual programming languages are known as block-based
programming languages (BBPLs). The integrated develop-
ment environments in which they are used are called
block-based programming environments (BBPEs). BBPLs
allow the development of a computer program by dragging,
dropping and snapping program chunks that are orga-
nized into different categories. Thus, people who never
encountered application development can better understand
the basic concepts of programming and the creation of
algorithms [1]. Despite these innovations in software
development, the need for computer specialists is
increasing. For Larson [2], the shortage of IT staff in
many countries around the world has become a serious
problem. To solve this problem, governments and education
ministries in many countries have changed their curricula
by introducing subjects belonging to the computer science.
These curricula aim not only at introducing information
technology terms to children, but also the basic concepts
of programming and the creation of computer programs
and computer games.
In 2015, the Ministry of Education and Science in the
Republic of Bulgaria added a new compulsory computer
discipline named “Computer Modeling” for primary school
students (grades 3 and 4) [3], which will start in 2019.
According to the curriculum of this discipline, children
should be able to write simple algorithms and develop
computer applications, computer games and animated
objects using visual environments and programming
After investigating various literary sources, it was
found that there was a lack of reasonable arguments in
the methodologies for the selection of appropriate visual
programming languages, based on their functionalities
and interface. Analyses related to the children’s preferences
are also very limited due to the intensive research into
computer programming for children only within the last
few years. All this motivated us to start working in this
field of study and present the results of our investigation
in this paper.
The paper is structured as follows: overview of the
state-of-the-art studies, associated with BBPLs for children;
several types of criteria used to determine the benefits
and disadvantages of multiple BBPLs and their comparison
with traditional programming languages; analysis of the
possibility for use of BBPLs by pupils; analysis of the
opinions of the pupils in a primary school regarding some
of the BBPLs presented; and study conclusions.
Modern computer technologies define the new lifestyle
of people, and children are no exception to that definition.
From an early age, children start to use mobile devices
(smartphones and/or tablets) to play, make phone calls,
and for entertainment. But they can do much more with
the help of computer technologies. Young children can
visualize their ideas through computer drawings, anima-
tions, or computer games that they develop themselves.
The use of modern computer technologies by children
as a learning tool is not a novelty. In the 80's of the 20th
century, “Turtle”, the computer-controlled cybernetic
animal, was created at MIT [4]. The “Turtle” is controlled
by a computer language LOGO, which is the first computer
language appropriate for children. A study of Papert [4]
can be considered as fundamental to human-computer
interaction as children are no longer seen as ordinary
users but as a part of the computer program development
Thus, the development of comprehensible and intuitive
programming languages has become a priority for all
software engineers. The focus of interest in this paper is to
study not only the way children interact with programming
languages, but also their features and capabilities, the
intuitive understanding of the developmental environment,
and its similarity to classical object-oriented programming
languages such as C++. The present study is the result of
a 1-year work on the problem that was examined in [5]
and [6].
A number of researchers offered original methodologies
for teaching and learning computing programming for
young students. In most cases, their proposals adhere to
generally accepted practice and standards in their
countries. An example of such a study can be seen in [7],
investigating some game development environments,
comparing their features, and the types of games that can
be created with them are listed. Hayes and Games [7]
argue that special attention should be paid to the
development of thinking when designing learning games.
Teaching computer programming to children aged 3 to 6
years in England is discussed by Manches and Plowman
[8]. The two authors take into account the lack of scientific
research related to pedagogical theory, generally accepted
practices, and the scarcity of achievements and/or results
that allow researchers and practitioners to obtain an
overall assessment after introducing computer science
training (programming or coding) in the “early years” of
It is not only the great capabilities of BBPLs that are of
essential importance when used by primary school children.
A study related to the development of algorithmic thinking
among seven children over the age of 6 who used the
PiktoMir online environment for 8 weeks is rendered in
[9]. All the participants in the experiment ‘found PiktoMir
fun to use’. Furthermore, children aged 5 to 11 develop
their algorithmic thinking and apply it in practice [10].
According to Gibson [11], it is needless for them to wait
until adolescence to study the creation and use of simple
algorithms for mathematical computing or computer
programming. He suggests that children can begin to
A Methodology for the Analysis of Block-Based Programming Languages Appropriate for Children
Radoslava Kraleva et al.
learn computer science before they even know how to
read and write. In another study published earlier, Gibson
[11] presents the idea, “that the best way of introducing
children to computer science does not require a computer:
it requires the teaching of rigorous (formal) reasoning
about computations and algorithms”. He stated that the
first formal methods can be taught to children as young as
seven years and thus children can learn fundamental
algorithm concepts easily. His methodology is based on
games with real objects such as cubes, cardboards, etc.
The development of algorithmic thinking is crucial for
mastering the basic concepts in programming and is
facilitated by the modern BBPLs. However, it is
questionable whether the children can understand how to
use program chunks (blocks). The way children in the 4th
grade understand and read an existing code using the
visual cues provided by block-based programming is
presented in [11, 12]. Dwyer et al. [12] recognize the fact
that different pupils understand the program blocks
differently. In addition, pupils find it hard to understand
how the computer programs are designed and they
encounter difficulties when developing simple algorithms.
This study confirms once again Gibson’s idea that the
study of programs initially requires acquisition of
knowledge related to building an algorithmic sequence of
actions to achieve the respective purpose.
Another problem found in the literature is the difficulty
young children encounter in understanding the concepts
of abstraction in the programming languages, even those
that are block-based. For example, Armoni [13] presents
a study on the different opinions for and against studying
computer science by children in the kindergarten, as well
as the lack of detailed research into this issue. The author
of this paper concludes that children must be at least 7
years old to be able to cope with the abstract concepts
used in programming.
In the course of the present study, some articles
reporting positive results associated with the use of BBPLs
were found. According to [14], the pupils acquired basic
knowledge of text-based programming when using such
languages. Matsuzawa et al. [14] state that the language
interface of the developmental environments, the availa-
bility of learning materials and a user-friendly interface
are of vital importance. If all these features are available,
the pupils can focus only on the development of algorithms
and/or applications without handling exceptions and
debugging. The authors also confirm the fact that there is
still a lack of sufficient information concerning the way
students perceive BBPLs.
Bearing in mind the contemporary literary sources
reviewed above, it can be concluded as follows:
Children must be at least 7 years of age in order to
clearly understand the abstract programming languages;
Prior to introducing programming languages, including
BBPLs, it is necessary to acquaint pupils with the
formal concepts and the basics of mathematical logic.
This will help them to learn to build simple algorithms;
BBPLs help to build algorithmic thinking;
BBPLs help to further study the traditional progra-
mming languages.
Block-based programs most often consist of stacked
block elements that resemble puzzle elements. The program
is run only by pressing the RUN button. BBPE that uses a
BBPL lacks debugging and handling exceptions. The
main purpose of this type of programming language is
not simply to arrange program chunks. Instead, its
purpose is to let children acquire knowledge related to the
logical organization of an algorithm, so that they can
solve a certain task. Objects and splines from the real
world and background images are most commonly used
in these programming platforms to design the computer
program or game.
The authors of [8] point out six main areas of computer
training: (1) understand the algorithms; (2) create and
debug the program; (3) logical thinking; (4) work (create,
store, organize, retrieve and delete) with digital content;
(5) use information technology beyond school; and (6)
ensure safety and keeping personal information private.
All these indicators will be used in the development of
our comparative methodology of BBPLs for children.
The main purpose of this study is to determine the
degree of similarity between the block-based and the
traditional programming languages, and the possibility of
their use in the Bulgarian schools.
Similar analyses have been made in several scientific
publications, e.g., [19, 21, 22] among others. The common
feature shared by these analyses is that they investigated
no more than two BBPLs or programming platforms.
Moreover, the criteria used compare them only in terms
of their capabilities and mode of application in the
learning/teaching process. No clear set of criteria are
available to assess the capabilities of the investigated
languages compared with the traditional programming
languages. The advantage of the methodology presented
here is that it corresponds to and satisfies the conclusions
of the study involving the various literary sources and
provides an accurate assessment of the actual capabilities
of a BBPL.
The criteria for analyzing some of the more common
BBPLs are divided into four categories (groups): the first
category refers to the user interface of the programming
platform; the second one relates to the availability of
teaching materials; and the third contains the main
features of traditional programming languages. The
proposed criteria can be used to analyze programming
languages different from the ones used in this article.
Journal of Computing Science and Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 1, March 2019, pp. 1-10
Radoslava Kraleva et al.
This methodology provides an independent evaluation of
the programming languages investigated.
(1) Usability and support (Table 1)
- Age: Appropriate user age is determined according to
the websites of the programming language and
related scientific publications.
- Price and license
- Operating systems (OS) and other software: The
requirements of the operating system and/or
additional software used are included under this
criterion. This criterion is needed because some of
the BBPLs are web programming platforms and do
not need installation, which is an advantage as it
guarantees easier and wider accessibility.
- Language support: The Bulgarian language support is
of great significance. This is a focal point of the
present study. All the investigated BBPs and their
programming platforms are adapted to the English
language, and very few are supported in the
Bulgarian language.
- Scientific publications
(2) Teaching materials (Table 2): The availability of a
detailed help system, easy-to-test examples, and a well-
structured curriculum are essential since these programming
languages are intended for children’s education. It is of
vital importance that these materials are made available
in the native language of pupils. Well-structured resources
will assist children to better understand the abstract
concepts used in the BBPLs. However, this article aims at
showing only the availability of teaching materials as
necessary elements enabling the use of BBPLs and their
platforms for pupils’ education. Their quality is not the
subject of research in this article as they are a subjective
factor and depend on the educational system in the
country concerned. This category contains the following
- Curriculum
- Structured learning contents
- Video tutorials
- Text documents
- Teaching materials in pupils’ native language
(3) Capabilities of programming languages (Table 2):
This group includes the following criteria:
- Games: Capabilities to develop games;
- Animations: Capabilities to develop animations;
- Robotics and Drones: Capabilities to manage robotic
devices or drones;
- Program sharing: Capabilities to share the created
- Real program code: Capabilities for visualization of a
real program code.
(4) Features of the traditional programming languages
(Table 3): This category is needed to determine the extent
to which the language can equip the child with real
capabilities in a traditional programming language. This
will allow easy acquisition of the basic programming
knowledge and the programming skills involving traditional
languages. The criteria that fall here are:
- Data types, variable type and constants
- Arithmetic and Boolean operators
- Conditional operators
- Loops
Tab l e 1.
Analysis of some programming languages based on their usability and support
Name Website Age
(yr) Price OS and other software Language support Science
publications 4+ Free All modern browsers English,
Bulgarian etc.
[23, 24]
ScratchJr 5+ Free iOS, iPad, Android English, Spanish [25, 26]
Scratch 8+ Free iOS, iPad, Android,
Windows, Mac, Linux
English, Spanish,
Bulgarian, etc.
[16, 24, 27,
28, 29, 30]
Tynker 7+ Free and payment All modern browsers English [31]
Kodu Game
Lab 8+ Free Windows English [15, 19, 32,
Mechanic 8+ Free and payment All modern browsers English [34]
Hopscotch 8+ Free iOS, iPad, iPod, iPhone English [35]
Alice 10+ Free Windows English [27, 36, 37,
38, 39]
Snap! 13+ Free and payment All modern browsers English,
Bulgarian etc.
A Methodology for the Analysis of Block-Based Programming Languages Appropriate for Children
Radoslava Kraleva et al.
Tab l e 2.
Analysis of some programming languages based on teaching materials and programming language capabilities
Category ScratchJr Scratch Tynker
cotch Alice Snap!
Teaching materials
Curriculum √√√
Structured learning content √√
Video tutorials √√√√
Text documents √√√√
Teaching materials in Bulgarian √√
Capabilities of programming languages
Games √√√
Animations √√√ √ √
Robotics and Drones √√
Program sharing √√√√ √
Real program code JavaScript JavaScript,
Java XML,
Total evaluation based on learning materials
and programming language capabilities (%)
91 55 82 73 36 45 55 64 55
Tab l e 3.
Features of traditional programming languages integrated into block-based programming languages and platforms
appropriate for children
Name ScratchJr Scratch Tynker
Mechanic Hopscotch Alice Snap!
Data types, variable type and constants √√√ √
Arithmetic and Boolean operators √√√ √
Conditional operators √√
Loops √√√ √
Functions and procedures √√
Arrays and list √√√ √
Pointers and data structures √√√ √
File handling √√√ √
Units and modules
Object-oriented programming √√ √
Data and database √√
Events √√√ √
Tools for painting and drawing √√
Sound use √√
Template and sprite control √√√ √
Input with keyboard and mouse √√√ √
Save √√√ √
Total value (%) 88 41 82 88 41 47 59 100 88
Journal of Computing Science and Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 1, March 2019, pp. 1-10
Radoslava Kraleva et al.
- Functions and procedures
- Arrays and list
- Pointers and data structures
- File handling
- Units and modules
- Object-oriented programming
- Data and database
- Events
- Tools for painting and drawing
- Sound use
- Template and sprite control
- Input with keyboard and mouse
The BBPLs that are intended for analysis with the
proposed methodology were selected after a detailed
overview of the literature discussed in the second section.
There are other programming languages and environments
that are appropriate for children.
To complete the goals set in this study several BBPEs
such as Move the turtle (, PiktoMi
(, and Daisy the Dinosaur (http: // among others, which are
suitable for children aged 5+ and allow the creation of
simple programs, were found with Google Search. The
common feature shared by all of them is the lack of
complex functionality that is characteristic of programming
languages. Therefore, they will not be considered in this
We chose the programming platforms,
ScratchJr, Scratch, Tynker, Microsoft's Kodu Game Lab,
Gamestar Mechanic, Hopscotch: Learn to Code Through
Creativity, Alice, and Snap! (Table 1). The capabilities of
both the environments and their programming languages
are analyzed.
The high-level primitives of Kodu allow writing of
very easy computer programs. A study of various strategies
for the practical application of the Kodu Game Lab
within a curriculum for young children educated “into the
habit of reasoning about programs” is presented in [15].
The results reported by Touretzky et al. [15] show that
many of the pupils find it difficult to understand the basic
logical rules when creating complex programming
actions. Difficulty involving the development of mental
simulation and analytical reasoning among children is
noticed. In conclusion, the authors point out that in order
to understand Kodu, the children should first study other
simple languages such as Scratch or Python.
ScratchJr, Tynker and Hopscotch programming platforms
stand out among others. What is common between them
is that they can be installed on a device with a mobile
operating system. The ScratchJr programming way is
more intuitive and easier, but its functionalities are
limited. In contrast, Tynker and Hopscotch both provide
many programming options as they provide an opportunity
to use different backgrounds, characters and objects, and
so on.
All the studies devoted to the use of BBPLs as a
programming tool for primary school children noticed
that Scratch was the most widely used. The practical use
of Scratch in the learning/teaching process is presented in
Wilson et al. [17] examined the possibility of using
Scratch to create computer games by children (4th to 7th
grades) in Scotland. Their article presents pedagogical
approaches to the introduction of game-based training
and provides an opportunity for assessment of children's
programming skills. Another study, related to the use of
Scratch by pupils for one semester, is presented in [18].
According to Kobsiripat [18], 60 children in the 4th grade
obtained the knowledge and skills to use media objects,
and thereby develop their creative skills in the Scratch
Based on the first three categories presented in Tables 1
and 2, it can be seen that the most suitable BBPLs for
primary school pupils in Bulgaria are (91%),
followed by Scratch (82%) and Tynker (73%). Scratch,
followed by Alice and Kodu were the predominant
programming languages in our literature survey analyses.
Fig. 1.
Evaluation of the block-based programming languages investigated, and their programming platforms.
A Methodology for the Analysis of Block-Based Programming Languages Appropriate for Children
Radoslava Kraleva et al.
All of the scientific works listed in Table 1 were retrieved
by the search strategy involving Scopus and Google Scholar
scientific databases without any limitation concerning
their publishing period.
Taking into consideration the results presented in Table 3,
it can be concluded that based on the BBPLs investigated
and analyzed, the closest to the traditional programming
languages were Alice (100%), (88%), Tynker
(88%), Snap! (88%) and Scratch (82%).
The average scores of each of the BBPLs analyzed and
listed in Tables 2 and 3 are shown in Fig. 1. These values
can be considered as average evaluations of BBPLs.
Based on the methodology presented and the research
conducted, it can be concluded that (90%) and
Scratch (82%) are the most suitable for the primary school
children in Bulgaria. These programming languages also
correspond to the requirements of the MES under the
subject “Computer Modeling” for primary school (3rd
and 4th grades) [3]. It must be noted that Alice (82%) is
comparable to Scratch, but it is difficult to use in the
initial training/learning due to the expected language
barrier that children may encounter when using it.
When talking about programming appropriate for
children, one should not forget that they have a limited
set of knowledge and skills. They should be considered
as ordinary users, and not as programmers with special
skills. Therefore, programming environments (platforms)
for children should be easy to use and easy to understand.
The program chunks should be easy to manage. They
should use natural language for the development of the
computer programs/games. The platform should provide
easy-to-understand examples and multiple learning
Based on the results obtained by the BBPLs surveyed
in the previous section, the opinions of 19 children have
been studied: 11 girls and 8 boys, aged from 8 to 10
years, and enrolled in the primary school 3rd and 4th
grades in Bulgaria. The study was done with parents’
permission and with the children’s consent.
The children used and Scratch every day for
20 minutes for 2 weeks except for the weekends. The
choice of and Scratch was based on the
methodology presented and the results obtained after
application in nine BBPLs.
During the experiment, the children received brief
instructions for the use of the individual features and their
application in simple algorithms. It must be pointed out
that the children encountered additional difficulties when
they used Scratch compared to They also
found it very easy to complete the simple tasks developed
with because the program chunks used were in
At the end of the work period, the children were asked
to provide their opinions about the programming
environment and the language they preferred the most.
They indicated the language of preference. The results of
this study are presented in Table 4. The most preferred
BBPL for the children was
Our study proved that Scratch was more difficult to
understand and use by children. The presence of interactive
multimedia objects in the programming platform,
such as a few favorite cartoon characters proved to be one
of the key factors influencing the children.
The results obtained in this investigation lead to one
more conclusion: with its BBPL is the
programming platform that best meets the requirements
of the Ministry of Education and Science in Bulgaria for
the school subject “Computer Modeling”, as well as the
criteria set in this article and the children’s preferences.
The use of BBPLs based on drag-and-drop technology
is the first step that children can take in the field of
computer science. Therefore, many governments around
the world introduce computer programming classes at
primary school. Thus, pupils must study specific BBPLs
using an appropriate programming platform. Therefore, it
is important that the programming language and its
environment are correctly selected, easy to understand,
with adequate teaching material for free used in the
teaching/learning process.
In this article, a detailed scientific analysis of the
publications over the past few years related to the use of
BBPLs and their development environments has been
made. This analysis resulted in several generalized
conclusions. (1) Children find it difficult to understand
the abstract concepts used in programming languages. (2)
Table 4.
Opinions of 8- to 10-year-old children about Scratch
Age (yr) Sex
Like Unlike Like Unlike
8Girl0 2 2 0 2
Boy 0 1 1 0 1
9Girl2 4 5 1 6
Boy 1 3 4 0 4
10Girl11 202
Boy 1 3 4 0 4
Tot a l 5 14 18 1 19
Journal of Computing Science and Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 1, March 2019, pp. 1-10
Radoslava Kraleva et al.
Children need to be at least 7 years of age to understand
programming concepts. (3) The next important step in the
study of programming is that children should acquire
prior knowledge about formal concepts and the stages of
simple algorithms. (4) The advantages of using BBPLs to
develop algorithmic thinking and build the foundation for
subsequent studies of traditional programming languages
were also taken into consideration.
Based on the analysis of the various literary sources,
groups of criteria for analysis and comparison of BBPLs
were outlined. The main points of these criteria include
the availability of learning materials and the features that
bring the block-based languages closer to the classical
programming languages. The maintenance of native
language in the programming environment is also of
importance for young pupils. These criteria were used to
investigate nine programming languages. The evaluation
identified the possibility of using some of these
languages for teaching primary school pupils in Bulgaria.
According to the proposed methodology, Scratch and were selected for practical research. These
BBPLs were used for two weeks by 19 children aged 8–
10 years. After completion of the experiments, children’s
opinions were collected and analyzed and their preferences
concerning the programming platform and block-based
languages were discussed.
One of the advantages of this study is that the
methodology used provides an independent evaluation of
block-based languages, and can be used as an indicator of
their application in early education. Moreover, this
methodology may serve as a starting point for the
development of new BBPLs.
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designed for usability,” PhD thesis, Carnegie Mellon
University, Pittsburgh, PA, 2002.
2. S. Larson, “Schools aren’t teaching kids to code; here’s who
is filling the gap, in web,” 2013,
3. Ministry of Education and Science in the Republic of Bulgaria,
“Ordinance No 5 of 30.11.2015 on general education,” http://
4. S. Papert, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful
Ideas. London: Harvester Press, 1980.
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7. E. R. Hayes and I. A. Games, “Making computer games and
design thinking: a review of current software and strategies,”
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8. A. Manches and L. Plowman, “Computing education in
children’s early years: a call for debate,” British Journal of
Education Technology, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 191-201, 2017.
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programming concepts to preschoolers with a new tutorial
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10. J. P. Gibson, “Teaching graph algorithms to children of all
ages,” in Proceedings of the 17th Annual SIGCSE Conference
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(ITiCSE), Haifa, Israel, 2012, pp. 34-39.
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Journal of Computing Science and Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 1, March 2019, pp. 1-10
Radoslava Kraleva et al.
Radoslava Kraleva
Radoslava Kraleva is an assistant professor of Computer Science at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural
Sciences, South-West University "Neofit Rilski", Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. She defended her Ph.D. thesis on
“Acoustic-Phonetic Modeling for Children's Speech Recognition in Bulgarian” in 2014. Her research interests
include child-computer interaction, speech recognition, mobile app development and computer graphic.
She is an editorial board member of the International Journal of Advanced Computer Research and Perspectives
of Innovations, Economics and Business. She is a reviewer of the International Journal on Advanced Science,
Engineering and Information Technology (iJET), Computer Standards & Interfaces, Journal of King Saud
University - Computer and Information Sciences, and many others.
Velin Kralev
Velin Kralev is an assistant professor of Computer Science at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural
Sciences, South-West University "Neofit Rilski", Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. He defended his Ph.D. thesis in 2010.
His research interests include database systems development, optimization problems of the scheduling
theory, graph theory, and component-oriented software engineering. He is an Editorial Board member of
the International Journal of Advanced Computer Research (IJACR).
Dafina Kostadinova
Dafina Kostadinova is currently an associate professor at the Department of Germanic and Romance Studies
at the Faculty of Philology of the South-West University "Neofit Rilski" since 2000. She has taught General
English, Business English, Translation, Specialized Translation, Contrastive Analysis, Academic Writing, and
Introduction to General Linguistics to students at the Faculties of Philology, Economics, and Pedagogy. In
2012, Kostadinova defended her Ph.D. thesis on “Structural Interferences in the Production of English by
Bulgarians”. She co-authored a textbook titled Specialized Translation (Selected English and Bulgarian Texts
for Translation) published in 2015. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal, Orbis Linguarum,
published by the South-West University "Neofit Rilski".
... The Inheritance Source Code Fig. 6 is a code segment [25] having a given class and a single method. The class name is Example, which is followed by an indented block [26] of statements which represent the body of the class. The name of the method defined is test. ...
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This work is a combination of conceptual and hands on based study aimed at laying a foundation for practical Object-Oriented software construction. First it presents a conceptual study of a number of backbone concepts of modern Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) languages. Secondly, it attempts to demonstrate real-life implementations of these concepts using Python Programming Language. This work touches on practical issues on Class and Object Creation, especially on the syntax and creation, and demystifies the subject matter using a simple table of rules. The OOP concept of Inheritance was studied, with focus on the three major types of inheritance. The self-argument, and constructors were studied, with focus on the three constructors - default, parameterized, and non-parameterized constructors. A brief discussion, and pictorial illustration was also made on the disparity between normal mathematical functions and OOP method calls. Further areas of studies are the concept of overriding between the parent and child class, as well as the OOP puzzle commonly known as Diamond Problem, including code segment and diagrammatic illustration of Python-based solutions. There are a number of other back-bone concepts in OOP not covered in this study, such as Encapsulation, Abstraction, Meta-Programming, among others, which will form areas of focus in future studies. Effort was made to enhance the overall presentation through practical illustrations using source codes, annotated diagrams, and discussions. It is hoped that this work will be very useful to researchers and other practitioners in Object Oriented implementations.
... The literature also indicates several difficulties and misconceptions that young children, as novice programming learners, encounter (Baser, 2013;Durak, 2016;Fokides, 2018;Zanko et al., 2019). For instance, beginning programmers may face challenges in developing simple algorithms (Kraleva et al., 2019), in understanding and using abstract representations such as variables (Fields et al., 2015;Hermans & Aivaloglou, 2017;Relkin et al., 2021), in grasping "if-then" conditionals (Barrouillet & Lecas, 1999;Mu¨ller et al., 2001), or in detecting and handling errors in their programs (Clarke-Midura et al., 2019). ...
There are increasing calls to introduce computational thinking in schools; the arguments in favor call upon research suggesting that even kindergarten children can successfully engage in coding. This contribution presents a cross-sectional study examining the coding practices and computational thinking of fifty-one primary school children using the ScratchJr software; children were organized in two cohorts (Cohort 1: 6-9 years old; Cohort 2: 10-12 years old). Each cohort participated in a six-hour intervention, as part of a four-day summer club. During the intervention children were introduced to ScratchJr and were asked to collaboratively design a digital story about environmental waste management actions, thus adopting a disciplinary perspective to computational thinking. Data analyses examined children's final artifacts, in terms of coding practices and the level of computational thinking demonstrated by each cohort. Furthermore, analysis of selected groups' storyboard interviews was used to shed light on differences between the two cohorts.
... All these types use Internet resources to manage and administrate the educational process. Either using desktop, mobile devices, or cloud based services (Software-as-a-Service), the educational process should provide a timely and synchronous interaction between instructors and learners from everywhere (Han, I & Shin, W. (2016), Capper, I. (2001), Grönlund, Å. & Islam, Y. (2010), Kraleva, R., Kralev, V., Kostadinova, D. (2019)). Furthermore, some LMSs use machine learning concepts, automatic recognitions, social networking, and prediction of user preferences to automatically adapt their functionalities based on user requirements (Sheeba, T., & Krishnan, R. (2019), Narayan, V., Herrington, J., & Cochrane, T. (2019), Valova, I., & Marinov, M. (2019)). ...
... Rodríguez-García et al. (2020) present a comparison of a few tools, whereas Hauck et al. (2019) focus only on tools to develop Internet of Things and AI-based business ideas. Other reviews on visual languages in K-12 focus on teaching computational thinking, not covering ML (Hubwieser et al., 2015;Kraleva et al., 2019;Noone & Mooney, 2018;Weintrop & Wilensky, 2017). Reviews on teaching ML in K-12, such as Marques et al. (2020) provide an overview of existing educational units, without analyzing in detail the adopted tools, and Long and Magerko (2020) focus on the definition of AI/ML literacy. ...
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Teaching Machine Learning in school helps students to be better prepared for a society rapidly changing due to the impact of Artificial Intelligence. This requires age-appropriate tools that allow students to develop a comprehensive understanding of Machine Learning in order to become creators of smart solutions. Following the trend of visual languages for introducing algorithms and programming in K-12, we present a ten-year systematic mapping of emerging visual tools that support the teaching of Machine Learning at this educational stage and analyze the tools concerning their educational characteristics, support for the development of ML models as well as their deployment and how the tools have been developed and evaluated. As a result, we encountered 16 tools targeting students mostly as part of short duration extracurricular activities. Tools mainly support the interactive development of ML models for image recognition tasks using supervised learning covering basic steps of the ML process. Being integrated into popular block-based programming languages (primarily Scratch and App Inventor), they also support the deployment of the created ML models as part of games or mobile applications. Findings indicate that the tools can effectively leverage students’ understanding of Machine Learning, however, further studies regarding the design of the tools concerning educational aspects are required to better guide their effective adoption in schools and their enhancement to support the learning process more comprehensively.
... com, Airtable, and expand the reach of IS development to nonexpert cohorts, including children (Kraleva et al. 2019), through new practices like drag-anddrop programming. Working with these tools, even those with little to no specialized knowledge can build their own websites, apps, productivity software, and data-management solutions. ...
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The role of information systems (IS) as representations of real-world systems is changing in an increasingly digitalized world, suggesting that conceptual modeling is losing its relevance to the IS field. We argue the opposite: Conceptual modeling research is more relevant to the IS field than ever, but it requires an update with current theory. We develop a new theoretical framework of conceptual modeling that delivers a fundamental shift in the assumptions that govern research in this area. This move can make traditional knowledge about conceptual modeling consistent with the emerging requirements of a digital world. Our framework draws attention to the role of conceptual modeling scripts as mediators between physical and digital realities. We identify new research questions about grammars, methods, scripts, agents, and contexts that are situated in intertwined physical and digital realities. We discuss several implications for conceptual modeling scholarship that relate to the necessity of developing new methods and grammars for conceptual modeling, broadening the methodological array of conceptual modeling scholarship, and considering new dependent variables.
... Therefore, developing software products for visualizing graph structures [13] and analysis of actions with them is an important issue [14], [15]. The options for describing graph structures with block-based programming languages [16] and domain-specific languages [17] are also interesting aspects of the development of research in this field. In some methods using graph structures, data are stored in databases [18] and can be accessed through cloud technologies and web services [19]. ...
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The basic concepts of using application development environments are presented in this paper. The way of using the GraphAnalyser application and its basic functions is also presented. All results of the experiments conducted are generated with this application. According to the experimental methodology, they fall into two groups: the first one includes actions related to the vertices of a graph, and the second one includes actions related to the edges and the dynamic allocation of memory to store the structure of a graph. The results show that when the number of vertices in a graph increases linearly, the time to add and remove these vertices also increases linearly. When the number of graph vertices increases linearly, the number of added vertices per millisecond remains relatively constant. However, the number of vertices removed for one millisecond for graphs containing between 10 and 70 million vertices varies. Similarly, when the number of graph edges increases linearly, the number of added edges per millisecond remains relatively constant. The summarized results of the two experiments show that the actions associated with adding, removing, and calculating the edge lengths are performed much more slowly than adding and removing the vertices.
... E-learning materials can be easily re-written or/and upgraded, and the student can quickly and easily get in touch with their teacher and get the help they need without being worried by their peers. More and more education ministries encourage teachers to use e-learning platforms to motivate their students [7]. Moreover, many of the universities and schools use LMS platforms to complement face-to-face learning. ...
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The use of modern information and communication technology as a means of training pupils and students has become a popular trend. For this purpose, a special type of web-based content management systems, called Learning Management Systems (LMSs), has been used. Due to their wide implemented, lots of LMSs have been developed in recent years. All those platforms often provide similar features and users can hardly choose the most appropriate for them. There is a variety of methodologies for the quality evaluations of e-learning in the scientific literature. However, there are no good explanations and detailed studies of most of the modern LMS platforms. This article proposes an analysis of the usability and software functionality of the LMS frameworks. Based on the survey of the state-of-art science research, the criteria for analysis of the LMS platforms in this paper are summarized in three categories: Learning skills tools, Communication tools, and Productivity tools. The main goal is to present a wide-range comparative analysis of 36 electronic learning management systems. All of them support the use of multimedia elements, creating and editing the lectures, exercises and course assignments. The lack of communication support leads to using web forums and social networks out of the LMS. The contribution of this paper presents an enriched modern trend of the software methodologies of the web-based oriented learning management systems from the perspective of design and development.
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Data modeling and data processing are important activities in any scientific research. This research focuses on the modeling of data and processing of data generated by a saccadometer. The approach used is based on the relational data model, but the processing and storage of the data is done with client datasets. The experiments were performed with 26 randomly selected files from a total of 264 experimental sessions. The data from each experimental session was stored in three different formats, respectively text, binary and extensible markup language (XML) based. The results showed that the text format and the binary format were the most compact. Several actions related to data processing were analyzed. Based on the results obtained, it was found that the two fastest actions are respectively loading data from a binary file and storing data into a binary file. In contrast, the two slowest actions were storing the data in XML format and loading the data from a text file, respectively. Also, one of the time-consuming operations turned out to be the conversion of data from text format to binary format. Moreover, the time required to perform this action does not depend in proportion on the number of records processed.
Conference Paper
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Reading, tracing, and explaining the behavior of code are strongly correlated with the ability to write code effectively. To investigate program understanding in young children, we introduced two groups of third graders to Microsoft's Kodu Game Lab; the second group was also given four semantic "Laws of Kodu" to better scaffold their reasoning and discourage some common misconceptions. Explicitly teaching semantics proved helpful with one type of misconception but not with others. During each session, students were asked to predict the behavior of short Kodu programs. We found different styles of student reasoning (analytical and analogical) that may correspond to distinct neo-Piagetian stages of development as described by Teague and Lister (2014). Kodu reasoning problems appear to be a promising tool for assessing computational thinking in young programmers.
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Code smells were originally designed for object-oriented code, but in recent years, have been applied to end-user languages, including spreadsheets and Yahoo! Pipes. In this paper, we explore code smells in block-based end-user programming languages aimed at education. Specifically, we explore the occurrence of smells in two educational languages not previously targeted by smell detection and refactoring research: LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 and Microsoft's Kodu. The results of this exploration show that object-oriented-inspired smells indeed occur in educational end-user languages and are present in 88% and 93% of the EV3 and Kodu programs, respectively. Most commonly we find that programs are plagued with lazy class, duplication, and dead code smells, with duplication smells being present in nearly two-thirds of programs in both languages.
Conference Paper
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With the growing movement to use visual block-based languages (VBBLs) in elementary and middle school classrooms, questions arise about the learning outcomes of such activities. While some schools are content to use VBBLs to spark interest and motivation for the future pursuit of computing, others are asking, Does this early exposure produce knowledge that transfers to traditional text-based languages (TBLs)? If transfer is a goal, then a corollary is, How do we design the transition to maximize the transfer? This paper focuses on initialization of state and variables, exploring the differences between Scratch and two TBLs: C and Java. Based on observations of 9-12 year old students in a VBBL curriculum, we identify four pieces of knowledge that are critical for C and Java but are not nearly as obvious in Scratch, including whether, when, and how to perform initialization. We conclude with suggestions for instruction and development environment that may improve transfer.
Conference Paper
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Visual block-based programming environments allow elementary school students to create their own programs in ways that are more accessible than in textual programming environments. These environments help students write code by removing syntax errors and reducing typing. Students create code by dragging, dropping, and snapping constructs together (e.g. blocks) that are organized by lists, colors, shape, images, etc. However, programming in visual block-based environments is not always simple; in fact, it can become complex quickly. In addition to elements that create code, the visual aspects of these environments provide readers information about what happens, when, and how. Here, we focus on how students used visual cues when reading programs in our block-based programming environment, LaPlaya, a variant of Scratch. Specifically we identified the visual cues students noticed and acted upon. These included not only those that were intended by designers (perceptible affordances), but also those that were not intended by designers (false affordances). Through a detailed content analysis of 13 focus groups with fourth graders we created an initial taxonomy of visual cues in our programming environment and explored how students used these cues to make predictions about provided code, and the types of affordances such cues offered students.
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Technology has been growing rapidly, and this fact that computers, gadgets and electronic devices have become part of our life is deniable. Computer skills and programming languages have become as important as other essential subjects in schools. Researchers have done some researches in the area of teaching programming and problem solving to novices, this study aims to study whether it is necessary to teach problem solving and programming in early ages. This study also aims to review previous studies in this area. We attempt to introduce a new programming language which has been developed to simplify the method of learning and coding for novices and young learners. We have been developing a new programming language which the children and young learners considered to be the learners of this language; however professional programmers would be able to code with this language as well. There are many popular and powerful languages, Python for instance is easy to understand and code with, however it is still complex and difficult to learn for children, and on the other hands programming languages like Java and C++ have their complexity. The target users are children who have no knowledge about programming. Beside some inappropriate teaching methods and resources, the complexity of programming languages and lack of knowledge about problem solving, young learners find programming terrifying. Having a programming language with a simple syntax and methods will encourage students and failure ratio will be decreased. Children will have a chance to learn how to code and solve a problem by using and interacting with an easy programming language. By doing this research and using valuable resources, we would expect to have positive and effective changes in science and programming in near future, as the today’s children are the future of our society.
Conference Paper
This session is for anyone currently using Alice 2 and/or Alice 3, or those exploring the possibility of using Alice in their curriculum. The discussion leaders and attendees will share teaching strategies, tips, and techniques with each other and those new to Alice. This is an opportunity to share assignments and pointers to web sites to access instructional materials, such as syllabi, student projects, exams, and other resources. There will be a special emphasis on mapping Alice curriculum and instructional materials to CSTA, CSP, and ACM curriculum standards and guidelines for a wide range of age/grade levels. The team will also share feedback from the Beta users of the new textbook and CS Principles Course.
This article describes the implementation of various core elements of Computational Thinking (CT) in the classrooms of schools of Latin America and USA in two specific courses: PC-01 and ECE130. These courses were designed for students of primary and secondary education, as well as for students of high school as part of a dual enrollment program with a local university. Both courses introduce the core concepts and processes of CT aided by the visual programming environments Scratch and Alice. The courses are facilitated by the classroom teacher with the support of a learning platform. This platform is configured to provide innovative pedagogical strategies based on emerging educational technologies. This article describes the concepts integrated under the term CT, and discusses the benefits of learning environments used to incorporate CT in the classroom. It describes as well the syllabi and assessments of both courses, and analyzes their impact of these courses on the educational institutions, the teachers and the students.
Conference Paper
The use of block-based visual language in introductory programming is a popular method in education. However, there is little research which provides evidence showing advantages of block-based language. This paper presents the results of learning data analysis with fine grain logs recorded by students’ development environment where the students can select their language in block-based or Java. A total of 400+ students’ logs collected each of four years were analyzed. The results show that migration from Block to Java can be consistently seen each year, although the whole block-editing rate was influenced by the method of the instructor’s introduction. Though block-editing did not affect working time and Lines of Code (LOC), it could reduce the compile error correction time, whereas using Java requires approximately 20% of compile error correction time for students. We concluded that block-based language worked to encourage students to focus high-level algorithm creation, as well as it provides an advantage to understanding text-based language.
Conference Paper
There is concern amongst teachers about how to support all pupils in making the transition from popular graphical languages like Scratch to text-based languages like Python. In a new subject, not taught widely before at both primary and secondary education in England, there is inevitably a lack of tuned-in pedagogical expertise. In this paper, the authors address the transition process by exploring established pedagogy in Computer Science, and other subjects including Mathematics, Science and Languages, and by sharing and testing their findings with pupils and teachers in the classroom. Teaching the fundamentals of programming is well served by applying sequential solutions in both graphical and text-based languages. This practitioner action research paper focuses on scaffolding support for pupils when making the transition from graphical to text-based languages. In an approach which uses graphical languages in conjunction with, not in place of, text-based programming languages, the authors discuss ways to tackle the difficulties presented to pupils by text-based languages, and propose a tested strategy for teachers to enable pupils to undertake the transition successfully.