What Emotions Do Novices Experience during Their First Computer Programming Learning Session?

  • Nigel Bosch
  • Sidney D’Mello
  • Caitlin Mills
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7926)


We conducted a study to track the emotions, their behavioral correlates, and relationship with performance when novice programmers learned the basics of computer programming in the Python language. Twenty-nine participants without prior programming experience completed the study, which consisted of a 25 minute scaffolding phase (with explanations and hints) and a 15 minute fadeout phase (no explanations or hints) with a computerized learning environment. Emotional states were tracked via retrospective self-reports in which learners viewed videos of their faces and computer screens recorded during the learning session and made judgments about their emotions at approximately 100 points. The results indicated that flow/engaged (23%), confusion (22%), frustration (14%), and boredom (12%) were the major emotions students experienced, while curiosity, happiness, anxiety, surprise, anger, disgust, fear, and sadness were comparatively rare. The emotions varied as a function of instructional scaffolds and were systematically linked to different student behaviors (idling, constructing code, running code). Boredom, flow/engaged, and confusion were also correlated with performance outcomes. Implications of our findings for affect-sensitive learning interventions are discussed.


Affective State Student Behavior Instructional Explanation Facial Action Code System Academic Emotion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel Bosch
    • 1
  • Sidney D’Mello
    • 1
    • 2
  • Caitlin Mills
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Computer ScienceUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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