fableBlocks: Toward Mitigating Programming Anxiety with Storytelling-based Tangible Block Programming Environments
Learning how to program is perceived by many college students as difficult. Factors that influence novices’ success in computer programming learning include the student’s mental model of programming, computer playfulness during training, and programming anxiety. Programming anxiety (PA) is a psychological state engendered when a student experiences or expects to lose self-esteem in confronting a programming task. Students’ achievements have been seen to be negatively affected by programming anxiety. Others have investigated storytelling and tangible block programming to facilitate learning programming skills, but such efforts did not focus on analyzing their effects on users’ anxiety toward programming. In this work, we present fableBlocks, a tangible block-based programming (BBP) environment that relies on storytelling to mitigate programming anxiety. We adapted an existing BBP environment to incorporate storytelling. In a comparative pilot study, fableBlocks outdid a conventional GUI-based environment in usability and user-experience scores. Although not statistically significant, participants demonstrated lower levels of PA with fableBlocks.