Investigating primary school children's embodied expression of programming concepts

Howland, Kate, Almjally, Abrar and du Boulay, Benedict (2023) Investigating primary school children's embodied expression of programming concepts. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 36. a100574. ISSN 2212-8689

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The study of children’s gestures has proved useful in understanding learning and conceptual development in subjects such as mathematics but has not yet been carried out in computing education. This paper presents an analysis of the way in which children describe programming concepts and their use of spontaneous co-speech gestures. We conducted two interviews at two different times (one directly after a programming activity, and one approximately two weeks later) with 45 primary school students in Saudi Arabia (aged 6 to 7). We analysed their responses when asked to explain two programming concepts: program and iteration. Participants using metaphorical gestures drew upon two overarching embodied metaphors in their explanations, namely (i) computing constructs as physical objects (ii) computing processes as a motion along the path. Participants moved their hands along one of three bodybased axes (longitudinal, transverse, and frontal) when referring to chronological sequences. These findings were broadly in keeping with those found in previous work on University computing students’ gestures. However, our study also showed that gestures used by child learners whose first language is a right-to-left language (i.e., Arabic) had directional differences compared to the gestures used by adult learners whose first language is a left-to-right language (e.g., English). This work is the first step toward understanding young children’s embodied descriptions of programming concepts following introductory programming activities, and the potential role of gestures in
supporting their learning.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Research Centres and Groups: Creative Technology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2023 09:44
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2023 15:15

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