Parent-child interaction and children's learning from a coding application

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Research suggests that children can learn educational concepts from well-designed applications (apps), including foundational science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts. Parents may be important for promoting children's STEM learning from touchscreen apps, as parents can help their children learn from other media. However, little research has explored how parents and children use coding apps together for learning, and whether specific parent-child interactions in these contexts promote children's learning from apps. Therefore, we observed 31 parents and their 4.5- to 5.0-year old children playing a coding app together and coded for spatial talk, question-asking, task-relevant talk, and responsiveness. Results show that parents and children engaged in high-quality interactions during coding app play, with parents and children exhibiting high responsiveness and task-relevant talk, and parents exhibiting a higher proportion of question-asking and spatial talk compared to their children. Importantly, linear regression analyses show that the dyad's ability to stay on task during the coding task predicts children's learning of coding, while question-asking was a negative predictor of children's learning. These results suggest that coding apps may be a rich context for STEM learning, and that specific parent-child interactions can scaffold their children's learning from STEM apps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103601
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Applications in subject areas
  • Cooperative/collaborative learning
  • Interactive learning environments
  • Media in education
  • Programming and programming languages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education


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