Name Tags and Pipes: Assessing the Role of Metaphors in Students’ Early Exposure to Computer Programming Using Emoticoding

  • Angelos BarmpoutisEmail author
  • Kim Huynh
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 785)


This paper presents a case study for assessing the effect of emoticoding during the students’ first encounter with text-based coding interfaces, in which period a student could have a deeply disappointing experience that may lead to “blank page trauma” as well as negative attitude towards the subject. A prototype metaphor-based source code editor was developed using novel human-computer interaction mechanics based on the concept of emoticon-like scripting. Similarly to the use of shortcuts for typing emoticons in social media, visual or textual replacements appear in the proposed text editor when the user types complete valid tokens from a given programming language. Appropriate metaphors can be used in the design of the token replacements so that they are appealing to a particular age, gender, or cultural groups of users. Quantitative analysis of data from 5th-grade students (n = 40) shows that metaphor-based emoticoding improves significantly the students’ performance in terms of syntax recall when they transition from block- to text-based programming in comparison to transitioning without emoticoding.


Computer science education Computer programming Source code editors STEM education Emoticoding 



The authors would like to thank the students who participated in this study. Angelos Barmpoutis would also like to express his appreciation to the University of Florida College of the Arts for honoring him with the “Best Teacher of the Year” award in 2017 for inventing and applying the method discussed in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Digital Worlds InstituteUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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