Tangible and graphical programming with experienced children: A mixed methods analysis

Theodosios Sapounidis*, Stavros Demetriadis, Dimitrios Stamovlasis, Pantelis M. Papadopoulos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


This study applies a mixed methods approach to analyze usability, collaboration, and playfulness aspects in introductory programming activities with tangible and graphical user interfaces of two groups of students (24 primary-scholars, 8–9yo; and 14 high-scholars, 12–13yo). The students had prior experience with the two interfaces, having used them in a previous study, a year earlier. In the present work, students started programming in dyads and used both interfaces (graphical - tangible) once again, but without scaffolding and user instructions. Initially, the students carried out programming tasks and then they were allowed to freely interact with the system and develop their programs in order to explore programming concepts on their own. Quantitative and qualitative analysis were based on Fun Toolkit survey, interviews, computer logs, and video records. Usability analysis focused on retention, error rate, and convenience and showed that although no difference between the two interfaces recorded, students’ perceived impression on retention was in favor of the tangible interface. Moreover, interaction with the tangible interface was perceived as more playful by all students and more appropriate for collaborative work by elder students and girls. Finally, gender effects regarding students’ preferences, mostly on the graphical interface, were recorded and analyzed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Children-computer interaction
  • Graphical interface
  • Introductory programming
  • Tangible interface
  • Tangible programming


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