Youth perspectives on their development in a coding community

Ricarose Roque (Department of Information Science, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Natalie Rusk (MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Publication date: 13 May 2019



Many initiatives are seeking to engage children in learning to code. However, few studies have examined how children’s engagement in learning and using coding develops over time. This study aims to seek young people’s perspectives on what they viewed as important in their long-term participation in a coding community.


This study identified youth with a high level of participation and who demonstrated emergent leadership in the Scratch online community. Using methods from qualitative research on youth development, individual interviews were conducted in which these youth were asked about memorable moments in their participation and how these experiences influenced them.


While each young person described a unique pathway and perspective, this study identified key experiences that motivated their participation, influenced their development and inspired their emergent leadership. These experiences included opportunities to learn through exploration, to receive feedback from peers, to engage in creative collaboration and to contribute to the community.

Practical implications

This study discussed these findings in light of previous research on youth development, and it suggests that building on practices and principles from research on youth programs can help more young people become engaged in developing broader skills with coding.


Youth highlighted experiences that enabled them to express their ideas, to build relationships, to help others and to see themselves in new ways. Their perspectives expand beyond the predominant focus of coding initiatives on computational thinking and problem-solving skills to also support social, leadership and identity development.



Roque, R. and Rusk, N. (2019), "Youth perspectives on their development in a coding community", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 120 No. 5/6, pp. 327-348.

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