This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Simbuilder: An Investigation and Usability Study Of Novice Programming Techniques




Kanakadoss, Sumitha

Type of Degree



Computer Science and Software Engineering


In many existing programming languages, novices always find it difficult to transform their mental plan to terms compatible with the computer. By analyzing the ways users think to solve their daily problems and designing programming languages accordingly, would help novices to overcome this transformation barrier. This study assumes that visual programming would be more effective for novice programmers since it requires less cognitive overload than textual language-based approaches. The study was initiated by analyzing the usability of currently available tools for visual construction of educational simulations like AgentSheets, Alice3D, 3D Game Creator, Toontalk, and Squeak. The main goal was to find the difficulties novice programmers experienced while developing simple science simulations in Squeak SimBuilder environment. These identified factors motivated and guided us to redesign v the environment to achieve effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction of users. We followed tenets of the Natural Programming design process to accomplish this. Comparative analysis was made and a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data was collected. Results indicated that overall the redesigned environment performed better than the previous version in all aspects and showed significant improvement in fun factor, ease of understanding, and learnability.