Using advance organizers to teach basic programming to primary-grade children

Carol Righi, Fordham University


This study is an examination of the effects of using an advance organizer to teach BASIC programming to primary-grade children. Past research with advance organizers has focused primarily on their use among adults. Because computer programming is becoming a popular curriculum component in primary schools, methods of teaching programming to children must be developed. In the present study, an analogy-type advance organizer was constructed, along with two lessons in BASIC programming. The advance organizer compared the computer and BASIC programming to the activities of a waitress and cook in a restaurant. The lessons consisted of instruction on five BASIC statements, commands, and operations. A BASIC proficiency instrument was created to measure comprehension of these statements, commands, and operations. Two third-grade classes and two fourth-grade classes from a New York City public school provided the subjects for two experiments. In the first experiment, the third-grade classes were randomly assigned to either an attention-control or an advance-organizer condition. In the second experiment, the fourth-grade classes were randomly assigned to either an advance-organizer condition or a post-organizer condition. A factor analysis of the instrument revealed four distinct factors. In addition to the overall score, factor scores were also calculated. t tests were used to examine group differences. Results of the first experiment showed no significant differences in favor of either group on the first three factors, and a significant difference in favor of the attention-control group on the fourth factor. Results of the second experiment showed significant differences in favor of the post-organizer group on the overall score, and on the first two factor scores. These results indicated that the post-organizer was facilitative of the learning of general computing concepts, but not of factual information. The advance organizer was not facilitative of learning. It may have confused subjects in the first experiment, and made it difficult for them to respond correctly to difficult items. The results led to the conclusion that a post-organizer is an effective tool for teaching BASIC programming concepts to primary-grade children.

Subject Area

Educational software|Curricula|Teaching|Science education|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Righi, Carol, "Using advance organizers to teach basic programming to primary-grade children" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8821961.