Learning to code via tablet applications: An evaluation of Daisy the Dinosaur and Kodable as learning tools for young children

Sarah Pila*, Fashina Aladé, Kelly J. Sheehan, Alexis R. Lauricella, Ellen A. Wartella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite the growing number of digital apps designed to teach coding skills to young children, we know little about their effectiveness. To formally explore this question, we conducted a naturalistic observation of a one-week program designed to teach foundational coding skills (i.e., sequencing, conditions, loops) to young children (N = 28, Mage = 5.15 years) using two tablet applications: Daisy the Dinosaur and Kodable. Pre- and post-assessments measured familiarity with technology, appeal of coding apps, knowledge of Daisy commands, ability to play Kodable, and conceptual understanding of coding. Participants improved in their knowledge of Daisy commands (i.e., move, grow, jump) and Kodable gameplay (i.e., placing arrows in the correct sequence to move a character through a maze), but did not improve in their ability to verbally explain what coding is. Appeal of the games was significantly related to children's learning of Daisy commands, but child gender was not related to either Daisy or Kodable learning outcomes. Results suggest that young children can learn foundational coding skills via apps, especially when the apps are appealing to children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-62
Number of pages11
JournalComputers and Education
Volume128
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Apps
  • Coding
  • Computational thinking
  • Digital games
  • Educational technology
  • STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education

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