Evaluating resilience & problem solving

Disclaimer: This is not a formal, rigorous academic study. It is an attempt by a small charity to understand how young people might be benefitting from our activities, beyond the qualitative feedback we receive in-club and from parents.

We began asking young people to complete a resilience feedback form in February 2021. This is voluntary and anonymous to our volunteer mentors. The evaluation form was developed in partnership with University of Bristol student as part of a community engagement placement.

Since then we have collected data on 242 project completions (n=76 young people). Of these data sets, 14 contain >5 data points (project evaluations). The evaluation is not intended to assign an absolute score for a young person’s resilience.

Each snapshot has 3 key pieces of information (4 if you include the timestamp). We haven’t included timestamps as they could be used to identify young people (attendance on specific evenings equating to a particular club session).

The three pieces of information are:

  1. project complexity,
  2. confidence in completing the project, and
  3. support from volunteers in completing the project

Our projects are (roughly) ordered from easy to more complex. This happens across three difficult ‘levels’, White, Yellow, Blue. This general colour grading allows volunteers to quickly recognise the relative complexity of the project the young person is working on, and suggest other projects to undertake.

The null hypothesis is that if our activities are of no benefit, then young people should be less confident / require more volunteer support as projects get more complex.

Fortunately, none of the data sets show this!

There are some interesting profiles that can be seen within the data.

‘Aha moment’

This chat shows an ‘aha’ moment on completion of our ‘Painting with Scratch’ project. This is classed as a starter project, but is actually quite complex. There is an important element of abstraction involved, with a single sprite (the pen) being controlled by several other sprites (the buttons).

The subsequent dip is the transition from White (starter) projects, to Yellow (intermediate) projects. Sentence Creator, and Secret Messages, are both quite complex list manipulation projects in Scratch. However, confidence is maintained and increases with Balloon Pop (introduces cloning) and password generator (more lists and string contamination).

Throughout this journey, the mentor support has been sustained.


This chart shows a young person’s journey from Scratch to Python over nearly 10 months. The project titles are hard to read but the last one is the transition to Python with ‘Hello World’.

The decreasing support over the first few projects suggests that they were making good progress and not requiring additional support. Their confidence remains high throughout. Password Generator, and Clone Wars are conceptually challenging projects, reflecting the increased volunteer support given.

The Memory Game (the second confidence uptick) is often a challenge for young people as there’s an abstraction between the main sprite and the buttons you press depending on the sequence of random values chosen. Once that is overcome, it’s relatively easy to complete and is a great springboard to more complex projects. 

The flat line over the last few projects suggests that the young person’s confidence is matched to the increasingly challenging projects. The uptick on completing their first python project ‘Hello World’, shows a significant increase in confidence on transition to python. This is likely due to their experiences and successes in Scratch previously.

More profiles

As we continue to collect data, we’ll continue to post interesting profiles to demonstration different trajectories through our projects.

The Benefits of Coding for Children

We’re delighted to be featured in Twinkl’s recent blog – The Benefits of Coding for Children. Read the full article on their website with contributions from other leading organisations that are supporting young coders.

We also contributed to their Q&A, with the following contributions:

Why is it important for children to learn to code?

A good coder is able to take a complex problem, and clearly describe a solution. They learn how to break large impossibles into manageable challenges. When things don’t go as expected, they review those expectations against what actually happened, and devise how to reconcile the two. It is these core problem solving skills and internal resilience that learning to code can develop in young people. Those skills are vital to being a good coder, and almost any career today or tomorrow.

What interests you the most about coding that can encourage children to get involved?

Coding is about making stuff happen. So we build games and other cool stuff. We start with Scratch, which is drag’n’drop coding, and work up to python which is a full coding language.

Coding is also about expressing who you are as a person. So we encourage young people to take our projects and make them their own. That could be changing a few colours and sprites, through to imaging a whole new world to explore.

What are some benefits of coding that can improve a child’s development?

Coding requires good reading, comprehension, and functional maths. All our projects have companion guides to follow, so young people can learn at their own pace but have to read and follow instructions. Our guides are written for young people and explain concepts clearly, but use technical language so that it becomes familiar. Coding also encourages teamwork and idea sharing. Many challenges are simply too large for anyone to tackle alone, so forming a team is the only solution.

Check out their other educational resources on Coding here.