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Department of Cognitive Science

Seminar Abstract

Cognition of coding in 3-6-year olds: The relation between programming ability and compiling of syntax in natural language

Speaker : Dr Eva Marinus, Cognitive Science, Macquarie University.
Date : 13th of March 2018, 11:00AM until 12:00PM
Location : Australian Hearing Hub, 3.610, Macquarie University.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in encouraging and teaching children to learn to computer program to prepare them for the demands of our increasingly digital society. As a result, companies have started to develop a variety of tools that can be used to teach children the basics of programming. There are even tools available for children as young as 3 years of age. It is still unknown what kind of skills predict or are involved in programming in such young children. The aim of our research program is to find out what these skills are and, ultimately, to build a cognitive model of programming acquisition. During the Departmental Seminar, I will present the outcomes of two studies that were recently completed as part of a CCD cross-program project between the CCD Reading and Language Programs. In these studies we used a wooden robot ("Cubetto”, to investigate programming ability in young children. Study 1 describes the development and evaluation of a measurement instrument for programming ability in 3-5-year-olds. In Study 2 we used this new instrument to investigate the relation between programming skill and compiling of syntax in natural language processing. For this study, we used a slightly older and larger sample of 5-6 year olds. Using Bayesian statistics, we demonstrate that there is some evidence that compiling of syntax predicts programming performance above and beyond age and nonverbal intelligence.