Filling the gap in programming instruction: A text-enhanced graphical programming environment for junior high students

Joey C Y Cheung, Grace Ngai, Stephen C F Chan, Winnie W Y Lau

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


To address the unique demands and challenges of educational computing, various kinds of environments, including graphics-rich and textual environments, have been proposed for use in introductory courses to provide students with a rich and interesting learning environment. In our experience, students in Grade 7 and younger respond best to the graphics environments while senior high school students prefer a conventional textual programming environment. Clearly, this leaves a gap at Grade 11-13, with students often on the one hand finding the graphics-based environments too limited and on the other finding the textual environments too difficult. In this paper, we propose a text-enhanced graphical programming environment which is innovative and interactive, and designed for junior high students with no programming experience. This environment allows students to design their own creative stories or programs. They build their programs using drag-and-drop iconic blocks, but unlike other, similar icon-based programming languages, they are also presented with the syntax of the actual program they are constructing in real-time. Once a particular icon block has been dropped in the programming area, the syntax statements corresponding to that block is immediately generated and presented to the user. The environment also allows them to modify the code without any limitations. Our results show that our textual-graphical hybrid environment has a positive impact on the learning experience of the students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-280
Number of pages5
JournalSIGCSE Bulletin Inroads
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2009


  • Education
  • programming environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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