The Problem with Debugging in Current Block-based Programming Environments

Juraj Hromkovic, Jacqueline Staub, The Education Column by Juraj Hromkovic and Dennis Komm


Programming is a highly creative activity that cultivates problem-solving skills, but also requires a high degree of precision. The Logo philosophy empowers novice programmers to become successful problem solvers who are capable of dealing with mistakes. The widespread emergence of block- based programming languages has lead to an active prevention of certain classes of errors while others still prevail. Rather than providing support, most block-based interfaces, to some extent, abandon learners in the difficult task of troubleshooting. We present a block-based programming environment that supports autonomous troubleshooting. Programming competences are not restricted to writing programs only. Correcting, modifying, and extending the functionality of previously-written programs is equally important and should not be neglected. Learning by productive failure is an unavoidable part of education.

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