General principles for a Generalized Idea Garden

William Jernigan, Amber Horvath, Michael Lee, Margaret Burnett, Taylor Cuilty, Sandeep Kuttal, Anicia Peters, Irwin Kwan, Faezeh Bahmani, Andrew Ko, Christopher J. Mendez, Alannah Oleson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Many systems are designed to help novices who want to learn programming, but few support those who are not necessarily interested in learning programming. This paper targets the subset of end-user programmers (EUPs) in this category. We present a set of principles on how to help EUPs like this learn just a little when they need to overcome a barrier. We then instantiate the principles in a prototype and empirically investigate them in three studies: a formative think-aloud study, a pair of summer camps attended by 42 teens, and a third summer camp study featuring a different environment attended by 48 teens. Finally, we present a generalized architecture to facilitate the inclusion of Idea Gardens into other systems, illustrating with examples from Idea Garden prototypes. Results have been very encouraging. For example, under our principles, Study #2’s camp participants required significantly less in-person help than in a previous camp to learn the same amount of material in the same amount of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Visual Languages and Computing
StatePublished - Apr 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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