Block-based programming has become popular for children and young school students, but at university level almost all programming is still text-based. A third intermediate option is the use of frame-based editors that combine elements of both block- and text-based systems. However, there have been few evaluations of the efficacy of frame-based editing, so its suitability for school use is uncertain. This paper describes an experiment comparing the use of frame-based and text-based editing in a UK school setting. A total of 85 teenage students from five different schools each completed three sessions of object-oriented programming tasks and a programming quiz, with each school assigned to use either a text-based editor or frame-based editor. We found no difference in understanding of object-oriented concepts between the two editors, and no difference in task completion times. This provides some evidence to suggest that frame-based editing is a viable option for use in a school setting, in place of text-based editing.
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