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  1. There is a currently a shortage of computer science professionals and this shortage is projected to continue into the foreseeable future as not enough students are selecting computer science majors. Researchers and policy-makers agree that development of this career pipeline starts in elementary school. Our study examined which collaborative programming setup, pair programming (two students collaborate on one computer) or side-by-side programming (two students collaborate on the same program from two computers), fifth-grade students preferred. We also sought to understand why students preferred one method over the other and explored ideas on how to effectively design a collaborative programming environment for this age group. Our study had participants first engage in five instructional days, alternating between pair and side-by-side programming, and then conducted focus groups. We found that students overwhelmingly preferred side-by-side programming. We explain this using self-determination theory which states that behavior is motivated by three psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and psychological relatedness which side-by-side programming was better able to meet.