Exploring the Programming Concepts Practiced by Scratch Users: an Analysis of Project Repositories

Ad Zeevaarders, Efthimia Aivaloglou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Article in proceedingAcademicpeer-review


Scratch enables children to learn about programming by creating games and animations, and is currently one of the most popular introductory programming languages. While Scratch has been found to increase students' motivation and interest in programming, it has been debated whether Scratch users practice and learn about core programming concepts such as loops, conditional expressions, procedures and variables. This paper presents a large scale study of the progression of the programming concepts practiced by Scratch users through an analysis of their complete public project portfolios. A dataset of over 112 thousand authors and their 1 million projects was constructed and analyzed from three viewpoints. First, we investigate the development of programming concepts by looking at block usage statistics for each project in the users' repositories. Second, we score and analyze the dataset using a computational thinking rubric. Third, we identify users that have left the Scratch platform and evaluate the learning goals they have achieved. Our results show that, while users progress in Scratch, there is a positive trend in the use of all concepts that were examined. Within the least utilized concepts, even after the 20th project of Scratch users, are procedures, conditional loops and logic operations. Examining the users who have left the Scratch platform after creating at least the mean amount of nine projects, we measured that half had left without ever utilizing procedures, and a third had left without ever utilizing conditional loops.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2021 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)
EditorsThomas Klinger, Christian Kollmitzer, Andreas Pester
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-8478-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-8479-1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventIEEE global engineering education conference 2021: Women in Engineering - Online, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences and the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Vienna, Austria
Duration: 21 Apr 202123 Apr 2021


ConferenceIEEE global engineering education conference 2021
Abbreviated titleEDUCON 2021
Internet address


  • K12
  • Programming education
  • Scratch
  • computational thinking
  • K-12
  • Game development
  • Computational Thinking


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