Studying the utility of Natural Language Descriptions as a support for novices in the early stage of learning programming

Work in Progress
Edgar Cambranes

Many novice programmers find the programming process problematic, in part because they have to use unfamiliar elements to create programs. Some environments developed for novice programmers, such as Scratch or Alice, have considered, for example, motivation or error-free syntax as key points to support programmers. However, these environments still fail to express programs in a way familiar to novice programmers, thus the user cannot easily verify whether the solution program matches with their intention. This research proposes to explore the usefulness of providing a second representation (in addition to a flowchart representation) to support a visual language designed for novice programmers. In particular, the second representation uses Natural Language to describe the current solution. The aim of the research is to assess the beneficial effects (if any) of a second representation on the comprehension, creation and debugging of programs. Specifically, the research will try to answer to what extent does the second representation affect these different aspects of the programming process? This paper describes an experiment that has compared the use of natural language as a secondary representation to a flowchart language with the use of pseudo-code as a secondary representation to the same flowchart language.

Type of Publication: Paper
Conference: PPIG Doctoral Consortium 2012
Publication Year: 2012
Paper #: 10
TitleStudying the utility of Natural Language Descriptions as a support for novices in the early stage of learning programming
Publication TypePaper
AuthorsCambranes, E
PPIG Workshop: 
2012-11-WIP