Motivating Programming: Using Storytelling to Make Computer Programming Attractive to Middle School Girls
CARNEGIE-MELLON UNIV PITTSBURGH PA SCHOOL OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
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Women are currently under-represented in computer science. Increasing the numbers of female students who pursue computer science has the potential both to improve the technology we create by diversifying the viewpoints that influence technology design and to help fill projected computing jobs. Numerous studies have found that girls begin to turn away from math and science related disciplines, including computer science, during middle school. By the end of eighth grade, twice as many boys as girls are interested in pursuing science, engineering, or technology based careers. In this thesis, I describe Storytelling Alice, a programming environment that gives middle school girls a positive first experience with computer programming. Rather than presenting programming as an end in itself, Storytelling Alice presents programming as a means to the end of storytelling, an motivating activity for a broad spectrum of middle school girls. The development of Storytelling Alice was informed by formative user testing with more than 250 middle school aged girls. To determine girls storytelling needs, I observed girls interacting with Storytelling Alice and analyzed their storyboards and the story programs they developed. To enable and encourage middle school girls to create the kinds of stories they envision, Storytelling Alice includes high-level animations that enable social interaction between characters, a gallery of 3D objects designed to spark story ideas, and a story-based tutorial presented using Stencils, a new tutorial interaction technique.
- Computer Programming and Software