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Designing for concreteness fading in primary computing

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-06-19, 08:21 authored by Anthony TroryAnthony Trory, Kate HowlandKate Howland, Judith Good
In primary education, concepts are commonly introduced through concrete instantiations, such as physical manipulatives and kinaesthetic activities, with an expectation that learners will gradually move towards working with abstract representations. There has been considerable research in subjects such as mathematics on how children can move from working with concrete to abstract materials, but relatively little research on how this can be achieved in computing, which has recently become a more prominent subject at primary level. This paper reports on the design and evaluation of a low-fidelity prototype learning environment that aims to teach children aged 9-10 about a key computing concept (internet routing), using a concreteness fading approach commonly applied in mathematics. An empirical study with 59 children showed that those following a concreteness fading progression scored significantly higher on a post-test than those using a concrete only prototype, and had an increase in positive attitude towards computing in line with alternative approaches. We highlight the potential for an augmented reality implementation of the prototype to support investigation of further key questions raised by this research.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Accepted version


IDC '18 Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children


Association for Computing Machinery

Page range


Event name

17th Interaction Design and Children Conference

Event location

Trondheim, Norway

Event type


Event date

19-22 June 2018



Department affiliated with

  • Informatics Publications

Research groups affiliated with

  • Creative Technology Publications
  • Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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