The difficulties that students have acquiring programming skills are compounded when they enter a course of study with little confidence in their own ability to use symbolic reasoning. The idea therefore, that programming should be understood primarily as an algorithmic process, often produces severe anxiety and a consequent rapid disengagement with the subject. The recent development of visual programming environments has led to the claim that this algorithmic metaphor can be replaced, at least initially, by one that draws on a correspondence between programming and storytelling. It is claimed that this allows more productive scaffolding to occur around students prior experience and consequently that anxiety is reduced and learning is enhanced. This paper investigates such a claim in the context of an introductory programming module taught to first year Computing undergraduates at the Robert Gordon University. It also examines the problem of transition to more conventional code-based environments.
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