I will be finishing my Ph.D. this spring. In my thesis research, I built a new programming system for children using a design process that emphasized usability. I began by thoroughly cataloguing the prior research on beginner programmers, and then conducted several new user studies to examine unanswered questions. This information was the basis for designing the new system, and the result differs substantially from current popular programming languages. In a user study with fifth- grade children, I demonstrated that several features of my system have a significant positive impact on usability.
More information about John's work can be found by visiting his web site www.cs.cmu.edu/~pane/research.