COMPARING PLAY-BASED LEARNING TO GRAPHICAL PROGRAMMING IN PROGRAMMING EDUCATION

R. Lindén1, A. García Díaz2, E. Kaila1, E. Lokkila1, M.J. Laakso1

1University of Turku (FINLAND)
2Universidad Complutense Madrid (SPAIN)
Programming and computer science are nowadays taught to younger and younger children. Still, the methodology applied for programing education in elementary school is usually graphical programming, with environments such as Scratch and Alice being highly popular. We have previously conducted a study about teaching programming concepts to ten year olds in Finland. In the study, play-based learning with kinesthetic exercises was compared to graphical programming. According to these previous results, the students using play-based approach outperformed the graphical programming group statistically significantly in the posttest.

In this study, we repeated the study with the same approach in a Spanish elementary school. A setup was kept as similar as possible to that in Finland, except for translating the materials into Spanish. Surprisingly, the results are quite different to the results in Finland, as in Spain, neither of the groups showed significant differences between the pretest and the posttest results. We discuss about the possible causes of the differences between the Finnish and Spanish experiments in detail.