Beyond "I'm done": Encouraging deeper exploration of challenging computational concepts
Blocks-based programming environments are productive environments for novice programmers because they offer opportunities to minimize syntax errors and help novices quickly feel a sense of accomplishment. This early sense of accomplishment, however, can lead to a learner’s conflation of their own achievement with complete mastery of the programming environment, even when that is not the likely case. Introductory programming initiatives where novices engage with Scratch for only a couple weeks before trying something else also contribute to this issue, and in our own experiences we’ve heard students say things like, “I did Scratch,” or “I’m done with Scratch,” even though their computational fluency may be somewhat limited. This misconception of “done-ness” is often challenged when learners transition to other programming languages. How do we as learning designers create opportunities for novice engagement with some of the more complex computational concepts which are available but underutilized in Scratch? In this talk, we will engage with questions about how to design activities which encourage learners to explore computational concepts they might be unfamiliar with (such as variables, lists, and string manipulation), through the context of Getting Unstuck, a summer 2018 21-day creative programming challenge for K-12 educators.