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The motivation for our work is to introduce a recently developed programming language, Clojure, in a beginner computer science (CSci) class at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Clojure is an industryaccepted programming language that provides significant benefits for beginner programmers, such as focus on a functional approach to programming which, in UMM experience, provides a good foundation for subsequent CSci curriculum. Learning Clojure in an introductory class opens opportunities for students to collaborate on numerous worldwide projects, as well as take advantage of improvements in modern computing hardware. However, Clojure is challenging to use because of its complicated handling of programmers’ mistakes. Mistakes in computer programming are a natural part of developing software. When a mistake happens, there is a system to notify the programmer of an error. The specific information that the programmer receives, known as an error message, may or may not be helpful in identifying the issue. Clojure error messages are notorious for being confusing to beginners. We are developing a system that intercepts the existing Clojure error messages and automatically rephrases them for beginner programmers. We will conduct usability tests by observing the interactions between beginner programmers and our system, and the feedback we receive will be used to further improve our project. We present our new error message handling and discuss testing our system with new programmers.

Publication Date



University of Minnesota, Morris


Morris, MN


Error messages (Computer science)


Computer Sciences

Primo Type

Conference Proceeding

Developing Beginner-Friendly Programming Error Messages