The Effects of Providing Starter Projects in Open-Ended Scratch Activities
Given the importance of broadening participation in the field of computing, goals of supporting personal expression and developing a sense of belonging must live alongside the goals of conceptual knowledge and developing disciplinary expertise. Integrating opportunities for students to be creative in how they enact computing ideas plays an important role when designing curricula. We examine how student creativity, as expressed through theme and the use of costumes, backdrops, and narrative in Scratch projects, is affected by using a themed starter project. Starter projects are Scratch projects that include a set of sprites and backdrops aligned to a theme (e.g. baseball), but no code. Using within-group and betweengroup comparisons, we establish a baseline of what students do when they are given a starter project and explore how their projects differ in the absence of a starter project. This work contributes to our understanding of the impacts of structured elements within open-ended learning tasks and how we can design computer science learning experiences for students that promote opportunities for self-expression while engaging them in computing.
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