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