Programming with a Purpose: An Experimental Investigation on the Role Narrative Plays in Supporting Girls’ Understanding of Programming Concepts
2003 to 2005

To systematically investigate the power of narrative in enabling girls to learn key programming concepts and skills, CCT conducted a two-year experimental research project that used an object-oriented programming environment, developed by Stephen Lewis of Architectronics, and the metaphor of ice skating to interest girls in programming and to enhance their understanding of core programming skills. In the treatment group, students used a research tool to design ice-skating performances by combining and shaping various routine elements into an executable, cohesive program. In the control class, students used the same tool to assemble identical subroutines but without the graphic interface. Instead, students worked with abstract shapes moving across the screen (similar to early geometric screensavers). The study employed pre-post surveys, clinical interviews, and transfer tasks to gauge whether this narrative environment increases girls' understanding of programming skills and concepts (i.e., sequential thinking, understanding parameters and variables, and the structure of code).


Dorothy Bennett (PI)
Cornelia Brunner (PI)
Nyema Branch
Cornelia Brunner
Terri Meade