How deeply do you want to go into this?

1) If you're trying to set up balanced groups for a study, then you only need to know about factors that will give a sizeable noise level if they are not balanced across groups. That's what I thought you wanted to do, am I right?

2) If you want to know what the state of knowledge is about factors that might, possibly, have some relationship to learning to program, even if only a small one, then it's a whole different question. I would recommend looking at work by Mark Eisenstadt on 'everyday programming' (or some similar title), at a big review by John Pane, and at a whole heap of material on Logo. But that's a big big review issue.

If you're sticking with (1), you can stop worrying so much. Some few years ago Jarinee Chatatrichart found that of a very large number of possible factors that she studied, the only one with a significant contribution was whether people had used Lego blocks when they were little. And even that didn't have much effect.

Much better to worry about whether you've designed the experiment right. For example, how good is the interface? If there's something horrible in it, then the interference from that will drown every other effect. Really good experimenters, like Patricia Wright, used to run at least two pilot studies before starting the main study, to ensure that all the shallow problems were ironed out.

Also, how good are the instructions? Make SURE that people can understand them. Get people to read them and explain them back to you. Anything they find hard, REWRITE IT.

So that's I recommend you to do. Run two people in each condition of your study, then TALK TO THEM and ask what they found hard. Then FIX IT. Then do it again until they stop complaining about little things that you hadn't intended to be problems.


On 18 Mar 2011, at 16:45, Stefano Federici wrote:

I see. But don't you think that, among those people that don't know anything about programming, someone being very good at punctuation could perform better at programming? I'm thinking to the classical Logo example to draw a square:

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