Conceptual models of programming environments: how learners use the glass box

Jones, Ann (1993). Conceptual models of programming environments: how learners use the glass box. Instructional Science, 21(6) pp. 473–500.



The first part of this paper reviews the criteria offered by duBoulay, O’Shea and Monk (1981) for designing a conceptual model of a programming environment for teaching novices programming. Although the criteria offered, simplicity and visibility are helpful, these criteria alone are not sufficient as they do not address whether choice of which aspects of the conceptual model should be presented to the learner. In order to address this it is necessary to carve up the conceptual model differently and to distinguish different aspects. One important aspect of novices is a functional view – to help them develop programming plans. A new categorisation is offered which offers three views of the conceptual model: state, procedure and function, and adds a new criterion, namely consistently. Two languages designed for novices using du Boulay‘s criteria and are then analysed in detail – firstly using the original criteria and secondly using the proposed categorisation. Data from novices learning ot program in the two languages show that although the languages had been designed according to the original criteria, a number of learning difficulties remained, which were satisfactorily accounted for by the new categorisation.

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