Exploring Scratch to Python Transfer in Norwegian Lower Secondary Schools


  • Ragnhild Kobro Runde University of Oslo, Norway
  • Quintin Cutts University of Glasgow, UK
  • Lars Kristian Skaarseth University of Oslo, Norway


programming language, transfer, secondary school, novice


With an increased focus on programming in schools, more and more pupils are introduced to Scratch in primary school before learn- ing Python in secondary school. This paper draws on an intervention approach associated with the Model of Programming Language Transfer (MPLT), and on hugging and bridging transfer techniques more generally, to consider how to ease the transition between the two contexts and to deepen conceptual learning.

An initial guess quiz, part of the MPLT intervention approach, taken by 97 pupils from mathematics classes in three lower secondary schools in Norway, indicates that in the current context where the pupils have had some, but not much, exposure to Scratch, many of the basic programming concepts seem to be abstract true carry-over concepts, i.e. the pupils are familiar with the concepts in Scratch, but do not automatically transfer that understanding to the similar Python concepts.

An MPLT-based teaching intervention was designed in order to help the pupils see the connections between the Scratch and Python concepts. The intervention used the Python turtle library in an attempt to make the two programming environments more similar. The intervention was well-received by pupils and teachers, but follow-up interviews revealed that the teachers do not currently have enough programming knowledge themselves to be able to adapt the intervention into their regular teaching. In practice, the situation is also complicated by the two programming languages being taught by different teachers in different schools, with no communication and little curricular continuity.


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