Tablets, Very Young Primary School Students, and Basic Programming Concepts

Emmanuel Fokides


The study presents the results of a project in which tablets and a ready-made application were used for teaching basic programming concepts to young primary school students (ages 7-9). A total of 135 students participated in the study, attending primary schools in Athens, Greece, divided into three groups. The first was taught conventionally. The second was taught using a board game, while the third was taught using tablets and an application. Students' performance was assessed using evaluation sheets. Data analyses revealed that students in the tablets/application group outperformed students in the other two groups in three out of four tests. Students' views regarding the application were highly positive. The learning outcomes can be attributed to the combination of the application's game-like features and to the tablets' ease of use. On the basis of the results, educators can consider the use of tablets and mobile applications for teaching basic programming concepts to young primary school students. 


board game, Kodable, primary school, programming concepts, tablets

Full Text:



• Akcaoglu, M., & Koehler, M. J. (2014). Cognitive outcomes from the Game-Design and Learning (GDL) after-school program. Computers & Education, 75, 72-81.

• Brown, M. B. and Forsythe, A. B., 1974: Robust test for the equality of variance. Journal of American Statistical Association, 69, pp. 364-367.

• Dhir, A., Gahwaji, N. M., & Nyman, G. (2013). The Role of the iPad in the Hands of the Learner. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 19(5), 706-727.

• Doise, W., Mugny, G., James, A. S., Emler, N., & Mackie, D. (2013). The social development of the intellect (Vol. 10). Elsevier.

• Ertmer, P. A. & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.

• Fessakis, G., Gouli, E., & Mavroudi, E. (2013). Problem solving by 5-6 years old kindergarten children in a computer programming environment: A case study. Computers & Education, 63, 87-97.

• Games, P.A., Howell, J.F. (1976). Pairwise multiple comparison procedures with unequal N's and/or variances: A Monte Carlo Study. Journal of Educational Statistics 1(2), 113-125.

• Goodwin, K. (2012). Use of Tablet Technology in the Classroom. NSW Department of Education and Communities.

• Grgurina, N., Barendsen, E., Zwaneveld, B., van Veen, K., & Stoker, I. (2014, November). Computational thinking skills in dutch secondary education: exploring teacher's perspective. Proceedings of the 9th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education, 124-125. ACM.

• Grigoriadou, Μ., Gogoulou, Α. & Gouli, Ε. (2002). Εναλλακτικές διδακτικές προσεγγίσεις σε εισαγωγικά μαθήματα προγραμματισμού: Προτάσεις διδασκαλίας [Alternative instructional approaches in introductory programming courses: Teaching suggestions]. In Α. Dimitrakopoulou (Ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on ICT in Education (pp. 239-248).

• Grout, V., & Houlden, N. (2014). Taking computer science and programming into schools: The Glyndŵr/BCS Turing project. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 141, 680-685.

• Heinrich, P. (2012). The iPad as a tool for education: A study of the introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent. Nottingham: NAACE: The ICT Association.

• Henderson, S., & Yeow, J. (2012, January). iPad in education: A case study of iPad adoption and use in a primary school. Proceedings of the System Science (HICSS), 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference. IEEE, 78-87.

• Johnson, L., Adams-Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., & Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC Horizon Report: 2013 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

• Kalelioğlu, F. (2015). A new way of teaching programming skills to K-12 students: Code. org. Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 200-210.

• Karsenti, T., & Fievez, A. (2013). The iPad in education: uses, benefits, and challenges-A survey of 6,057 students and 302 teachers in Quebec, Canada. Montreal, QC: CRIFPE.

• Kearney, M., Schuck, S., Burden, K., & Aubusson, P. (2012). Viewing mobile learning from a pedagogical perspective. Research in learning technology, 20.

• Keren, G., & Fridin, M. (2014). Kindergarten Social Assistive Robot (KindSAR) for children’s geometric thinking and metacognitive development in preschool education: A pilot study. Computers in Human Behavior, 35, 400-412.

• Kinash, S., Brand, J., & Mathew, T. (2012). Challenging mobile learning discourse through research: Student perceptions of Blackboard Mobile Learn and iPads. Australasian journal of educational technology, 28(4), 17.

• Kristi, A. M. (2003). Problems in learning and teaching programming-a literature study for developing visualizations in the Codewitz-Minerva Project. Codewitz Need Analysis, Institute of Software System, Tampere University of Technology, Finland, 1-12.

• Lee, I., Martin, F., & Apone, K. (2014). Integrating computational thinking across the K-8 curriculum. ACM Inroads, 5(4), 64-71.

• Liu, C. C., Cheng, Y. B., & Huang, C. W. (2011). The effect of simulation games on the learning of computational problem solving. Computers & Education, 57, 1907-1918.

• Margulieux, L. E., Guzdial, M., & Catrambone, R. (2012, September). Subgoal-labeled instructional material improves performance and transfer in learning to develop mobile applications. Proceedings of the Ninth Annual International Conference on International Computing Education Research, 71-78. ACM.

• Mavridis, A., Siribianou, E., & Alexogiannopoulou, B. (2015) Διδασκαλία προγραμματισμού στο νηπιαγωγείο και το δημοτικό, χωρίς τη χρήση υπολογιστή [Teaching programming to kindergarten and primary school students without using a computer]. Proceedings of the 9th Panhellenic Conference of ICT Educators. Kastoria, Greece: PEKAP.

• Pane, J., & Myers, B. (1996). Usability Issues in the Design of Novice Programming Systems. Technical Report (CMU-CS-96-132), School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.

• Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books Inc.

• Pea, R. D. (1986). Language-independent conceptual "bugs" in novice programming. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 2(1), 25-36

• Quinn, C. N. (2011). Designing mLearning: tapping into the mobile revolution for organizational performance. John Wiley & Sons.

• Robins, A., Rountree, J., & Rountree, N. (2003). Learning and teaching programming: A review and discussion. Computer Science Education, 13(2), 137-172.

• Seipold, J., & Pachler, N. (2011). Evaluating mobile learning practice towards a framework for analysis of user-generated contexts with reference to the socio-cultural ecology of mobile learning. Medienpaedagogik, 19, 1-13.

• Shuler, C., Winters, N., & West, M. (2012). The future of mobile learning: Implications for policy makers and planners. Paris: UNESCO.

• Snell, S., & Snell-Siddle, C. (2013). Mobile learning: The effects of gender and age on perceptions of the use of mobile tools. Proceedings of The Second International Conference on Informatics Engineering & Information Science (ICIEIS2013) (pp. 274-281). The Society of Digital Information and Wireless Communication.

• van’t Hooft, M. (2013). "The potential of mobile technologies to connect teaching and learning inside and outside of the classroom". In Emerging Technologies for the Classroom (pp. 175-186). New York: Springer.

• Vavoula, G., & Karagiannidis, C. (2005, November). Designing mobile learning experiences. Proceedings of the Panhellenic Conference on Informatics, 534-544. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer.

• West, D. M. (2013). Mobile learning: Transforming education, engaging students, and improving outcomes. Washington, DC: Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings.

• Wilson, A., Hainey, T., & Connolly, T. (2012, October). Evaluation of computer games developed by primary school children to gauge understanding of programming concepts. Proceedings of the European Conference on Games Based Learning, 549. Academic Conferences International Limited.

• Zhang, J. X., Liu, L., Ordóñez de Pablos, P., & She, J. (2014). The auxiliary role of information technology in teaching: Enhancing programming course using Alice. International Journal of Engineering Education, 30(3), 560-565.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Asian Journal of Education and e-Learning

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.