Improving Engagement in Program Construction Examples for Learning Python Programming

Publication Information


  • Roya Hosseini, University of Pittsburgh
  • Kamil Akhuseyinoglu, University of Pittsburgh
  • Peter Brusilovsky, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
  • Lauri Malmi, Aalto University
  • Kerttu Pollari-Malmi, Aalto University
  • Christian Schunn, University of Pittsburgh
  • Teemu Sirkiä, Aalto University


  • 299-336


  • Introductory programming education, CS1, Python, Program construction, Worked examples, Classroom study


  • This research is focused on how to support students’ acquisition of program construction skills through worked examples. Although examples have been consistently proven to be valuable for student’s learning, the learning technology for computer science education lacks program construction examples with interactive elements that could engage students. The goal of this work is to investigate the value of the “engaging” features in programming examples. We introduce PCEX, an online tool developed to present program construction examples in an engaging fashion. We also present the results of a controlled study with a between-subject design that was conducted in a large introductory Python programming class to compare PCEX with non-interactive worked examples focused on program construction. The results of our study show the positive impact of interactive program construction examples on student’s engagement, problem-solving performance, and learning.