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A Multi-Case Study on Parent-Child Collaboration in Learning Scratch Programming
A multi-case study approach was used in this research to investigate parent-child interactions while they learned to solve Scratch programming problems together, how the co-learning process influenced children’s performance when they were required to solve problems alone, whether the participants enjoyed co-learning, and how they thought of Scratch as a language for elementary school students. Three parent-child pairs participated voluntarily in this research. The three children were in their fifth or sixth grade. During the three days when the participants learned to program in Scratch, each parent-child pair did 12 projects collaboratively. The three children were then asked to complete two projects alone for the purpose of performance assessment. The interactions between each parent-child pair while they solve problems together were observed and screen-capture software was used to record their program development process. The participants were also interviewed individually at the end of the course. The results revealed that the parents tended to guide their children step by step toward completion of a project even though their computer experience was rather limited and none of them had learned Scratch programming before, and all three children relied heavily on their parents for guidance and support. Rarely did exchange of problem-solving ideas or sharing of learning experience occur in any parent/child pair. Consequently, the three children’s problem-solving performance was influenced by how they had been guided by their parents. It was also observed that parents’ learning might have been relatively superficial since they seldom had the control of the computer to try their hands on writing Scratch programs themselves. All participants found Scratch programming interesting and suitable for elementary school students; moreover, all of them welcomed the opportunity of co-learning programming with their parents/children. However, some parents had reservations about co-learning again, fearing that co-learning might inadvertently encourage children’s reliance on them for learning.
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