First Programming Language: Visual or Textual?

by   Mark Noone, et al.

In modern day society, the ability to code is a highly desirable skill. So much so that the current supply from third level institutes across the world does not meet the high demands of industry. One of the major issues is the low progression rates from first to second year in third level Computer Science courses with introductory programming courses proving to be a high contributing factor. This is something that needs to be addressed. One such way to address the issue is to get children involved and engaged with computing at young ages. This paper describes a study undertaken that is the first step in a body of work that aims to garner the interest of potential Computer Science students at an early age. The study involves a comparison of two short courses; one based in Java and one based in Snap. The goal is to determine whether either of these languages is a better first programming language for students than the other, or if both are viable. These languages were chosen to allow for a comparison between a Visual Programming Language and a Textual Programming Language. Feedback in the form of a survey will be used to gather the opinions of the students. This will provide data on issues such as which language was easier to learn and which language was preferred amongst others. Based on the outcomes of this study, a full-scale curriculum will be developed in the coming year. The outcomes of this study will help to establish which is the best programming language to suit the learning needs of students.


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