Comparing block-based and text-based programming in high school computer science classrooms

David Weintrop, Uri Wilensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


The number of students taking high school computer science classes is growing. Increasingly, these students are learning with graphical, block-based programming environments either in place of or prior to traditional text-based programming languages. Despite their growing use in formal settings, relatively little empirical work has been done to understand the impacts of using block-based programming environments in high school classrooms. In this article, we present the results of a 5-week, quasi-experimental study comparing isomorphic block-based and text-based programming environments in an introductory high school programming class. The findings fromthis study show students in both conditions improved their scores between preand postassessments; however, students in the blocks condition showed greater learning gains and a higher level of interest in future computing courses. Students in the text condition viewed their programming experience as more similar to what professional programmers do and as more effective at improving their programming ability. No difference was found between students in the two conditions with respect to confidence or enjoyment. The implications of these findings with respect to pedagogy and design are discussed, along with directions for future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalACM Transactions on Computing Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Block-based programming
  • Design
  • Programming environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education


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