Dwyer, H. A., Hill, C., Hansen, A., Iveland, A., Franklin, D, & Harlow, D.
Abstract. Visual block-based programming environments allow elementary school students to create their own programs in ways that are more accessible than in textual programming environments. These environments help students write code by removing syntax errors and reducing typing. Students create code by dragging, dropping, and snapping constructs together (e.g. blocks) that are organized by lists, colors, shape, images, etc. However, programming in visual block-based environments is not always simple; in fact, it can become complex quickly. In addition to elements that create code, the visual aspects of these environments provide readers information about what happens, when, and how. Here, we focus on how students used visual cues when reading programs in our block-based programming environment, Sandbox, a variant of Scratch. Specifically we identified the visual cues students noticed and acted upon. This included not only those that were intended by designers (perceptible affordances), but also those that were not intended by designers (false affordances). Through a detailed content analysis of 13 focus groups with fourth graders we created an initial taxonomy of visual cues in our programming environment and explored how students used these cues to make predictions about provided code, and the types of affordances such cues offered students.