Software Clones in Scratch Projects: On the Presence of Copy-and-Paste in Computational Thinking Learning

Gregorio Robles, Jesús Moreno-León, Efthimia Aivaloglou, Felienne Hermans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Computer programming is being introduced in schools worldwide as part of a movement that promotes Computational Thinking (CT) skills among young learners. In general, learners use visual, block-based programming languages to acquire these skills, with Scratch being one of the most popular ones. Similar to professional developers, learners also copy and paste their code, resulting in duplication. In this paper we present the findings of correlating the assessment of the CT skills of learners with the presence of software clones in over 230,000 projects obtained from the Scratch platform. Specifically, we investigate i) if software cloning is an extended practice in Scratch projects, ii) if the presence of code cloning is independent of the programming mastery of learners, iii) if code cloning can be found more frequently in Scratch projects that require specific skills (as parallelism or logical thinking), and iv) if learners who have the skills to avoid software cloning really do so. The results show that i) software cloning can be commonly found in Scratch projects, that ii) it becomes more frequent as learners work on projects that require advanced skills, that iii) no CT dimension is to be found more related to the absence of software clones than others, and iv) that learners-even if they potentially know how to avoid cloning-still copy and paste frequently. The insights from this paper could be used by educators and learners to determine when it is pedagogically more effective to address software cloning, by educational programming platform developers to adapt their systems, and by learning assessment tools to provide better evaluations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 IEEE 11th International Workshop on Software Clones (IWSC)
EditorsN.A. Kraft, M. Godfrey, H. Sajnani
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5090-6595-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-5090-6596-7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2017
EventIWSC 2017: 11th IEEE International Workshop on Software Clones - Klagenfurt, Austria
Duration: 21 Feb 201721 Feb 2017
Conference number: 11th


WorkshopIWSC 2017


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