Conference PaperPDF Available

Using coding to teach mathematics: Results of a pilot project



The Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies provides an opportunity for teachers to integrate coding and computational thinking within their STEM teaching practices. However, this opportunity has proven to be a challenge for many teachers, as their self-efficacy with respect to teaching these new skills is often low. This research explores the implementation of a professional development program that focussed on the integration of coding and computational thinking within the teaching of mathematics in primary school classrooms. In particular, we study changes in teacher selfefficacy with regards to coding and computational thinking before and after participating in the program. Using the validated Teachers’ Self- Efficacy in Computational Thinking (TSECT) instrument as well as focus group data, we analyse the experiences of 15 primary school teachers in New South Wales, Australia. We conclude that the program, based on the ScratchMaths resources developed in the UK, was successful in improving teachers’ self-efficacy towards both computational thinking and the integration of mathematics and coding. Our qualitative analysis of the focus group conversations also highlighted teachers’ positive perceptions of student engagement and the need to make the mathematics concepts underpinning the ScratchMaths modules more explicit.
Integrated EducaƟon for the Real World
5th InternaƟonal STEM in EducaƟon Conference
Post-Conference Proceedings
hosted by the Queensland University
of Technology, Brisbane, Australia,
21st to 23rd November 2018
Page 152
Holmes, K., Prieto-Rodriguez, E., Hickmott, D., & Berger, N.
Professor Kathryn Holmes
Western Sydney University,
Dr Elena Prieto-Rodriguez
The University of Newcastle
Daniel Hickmott
The University of Newcastle
Dr Nathan Berger
Western Sydney University,
The Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies provides an opportunity
for teachers to integrate coding and computational thinking within their
STEM teaching practices. However, this opportunity has proven to be a
challenge for many teachers, as their self-efficacy with respect to teaching
these new skills is often low. This research explores the implementation of
a professional development program that focussed on the integration of
coding and computational thinking within the teaching of mathematics in
primary school classrooms. In particular, we study changes in teacher self-
efficacy with regards to coding and computational thinking before and
after participating in the program. Using the validated Teachers’ Self-
Efficacy in Computational Thinking (TSECT) instrument as well as focus
group data, we analyse the experiences of 15 primary school teachers in
New South Wales, Australia. We conclude that the program, based on the
ScratchMaths resources developed in the UK, was successful in
improving teachers’ self-efficacy towards both computational thinking
and the integration of mathematics and coding. Our qualitative analysis of
the focus group conversations also highlighted teachers’ positive
perceptions of student engagement and the need to make the mathematics
concepts underpinning the ScratchMaths modules more explicit.
Keywords: Teacher professional development, computational thinking, integration of coding and
mathematics in STEM.
Computer programming has been utilised as a pedagogical tool to facilitate
understanding of mathematical concepts since computer languages were made widely
available through personal computers. Early examples of using computer programming to
explore mathematics concepts through the process of ‘testing and debugging’ are found in the
literature as early as the 1960s (Feurzeig, 1969), although perhaps the most salient case of
advocacy for this pedagogical approach has been the one proposed by Seymour Papert.
Papert, a mathematician, posited that young people learn best when they are engaged in
the construction of digital and/or physical artefacts that are personally meaningful to them
and that can be shared with others (Papert, 1980). During the late 1980s, personal computers
were introduced in schools in the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom
(UK), which, in turn, allowed for the teaching of programming languages in mainstream K-
Page 153
12 education (Agalianos, Whitty, & Noss, 2006). The use of Papert’s ideas, including their
integration into mathematics classrooms, has been the object of notable studies since that
time (Benton, Hoyles, Kalas, & Noss, 2017; Hoyles & Noss, 1992; Kafai & Burke, 2015;
Kafai & Harel, 1991; Wilensky & Resnick, 1999).
Many countries, such as the UK, the USA and New Zealand, have recently introduced
STEM curricula in compulsory and post-compulsory schooling, and there is often a focus on
teaching coding and computational thinking within STEM (Bell, Newton, Andreae, &
Robins, 2012; Brown, Sentance, Crick, & Humphreys, 2014; Fisher, 2016). However,
introducing coding and computational thinking into compulsory education undoubtedly
presents challenges for teachers, as the learning of these skills has not usually been part of
their formal education. This is particularly true for primary school teachers, as they are
unlikely to have completed a technology major at university, are usually generalist teachers,
and often possess low levels of self-efficacy in relation to coding and computational thinking
(Bean, Weese, Feldhausen & Bell, 2015).
Interestingly, one of the approaches suggested for helping prepare teachers for teaching
coding and computational thinking is to integrate them into the STEM subjects they are
currently teaching, for example, mathematics (Barr & Stephenson, 2011). This approach to
teacher professional development constitutes the essence of the ScratchMaths project, led by
Hoyles and Noss (Benton et al., 2017), currently underway in the UK, designed to help
prepare primary school teachers undertake the challenging task of bringing the new digital
technologies curriculum in an integrated manner to their classrooms.
This paper reports on a pilot project centred on adapting ScratchMaths materials to the
Australian mathematics and digital technologies curricula and exploring its implementation
with 15 primary school teachers in the State of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Our
research questions are:
x Does participant teachers’ self-efficacy with regards to coding and computational
thinking increase after learning and using the adapted ScratchMaths resources?
x Does their self-efficacy with regards to using coding to teach mathematics also
ScratchMaths is a project that incorporates the programming language Scratch. Scratch
is a visual programming language designed for introducing students to computing, which was
developed at MIT Media Lab (Resnick et al., 2009). Scratch is used widely by Australian
primary school teachers as a way to introduce coding in their classroom, and its pedagogical
possibilities in mathematics in Australian schools are currently being explored (Miller &
Larkin, 2017).
ScratchMaths is a two-year computing and mathematics-based curriculum for Key
Stage 2 in the UK (equivalent to Years 4 and 5 in Australia). Its aim is to enable students to
engage with and explore important mathematical ideas through coding in Scratch. The
ScratchMaths curriculum contains 6 modules of work and incorporates teacher guides,
classroom presentations, Scratch starter projects, additional challenges and reference posters.
For the Australian pilot project reported in this paper, we conducted professional
development in ScratchMaths with Stage 3 (Year 5 and 6) teachers. The pilot project ran for
roughly 8 weeks, commencing with a 2-day professional development workshop and ending
with a final showcase where teachers shared their experiences and samples of students’ work.
We also offered support during the interim classroom implementation period. The aim of the
Page 154
pilot project was to explore participant teachers’ perceptions of their ability to facilitate
students’ learning processes to develop mathematical ideas through coding, and how those
perceptions varied after an eight-week intervention.
The concepts covered in the workshops included sequencing and repetition (loops),
which are present in the Australian Digital Technologies curriculum (Australian Curriculum
and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2017) and have been identified in the literature as
essential computational thinking concepts for students in the later stages of K-6 education
(Brennan & Resnick, 2012; Rich, Strickland, Binkowski, Moran, & Franklin, 2017).
The ScratchMaths investigations used in the workshops introduce or reinforce a couple
of computational and mathematical concepts and often build on concepts introduced in the
preceding investigations. In Figure 1, an example of a stack of Scratch blocks from
ScratchMaths is shown next to the tile pattern that results from these blocks being followed.
This example includes some of the computational and mathematical concepts present in the
Figure 1. A stack of Scratch blocks and the resulting tile pattern
To evaluate the effectiveness of our adapted resources, we used Social Cognitive
Theory and its concept of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1993). Our choice was based on our belief
that for teachers to embrace new concepts and pedagogies, they need to feel a certain amount
of confidence in their ability to impart these concepts and utilise the pedagogies. In order to
evaluate the change in teachers’ self-efficacy, we utilised the Teachers’ Self-Efficacy in
Computational Thinking (TSECT) instrument.
This instrument was developed by Bean et al. (2015) to evaluate very similar initiatives,
contains nine items, and has a high reliability (Chronbach’s Alpha = 0.935). Out of these nine
questions, we used only seven, as two of the original items relate to US Common Core
Standards and are irrelevant in the Australian context. We measured teachers’ perception of
their ability to facilitate their students’ development of mathematical ideas using coding,
using three validated questions from the ScratchMaths research project in the UK. All items
are shown in Table 1.
Research data was collected via two main methods. We conducted pre- (n=15) and
post- (n=8) intervention surveys linked through an identifier. The eight teachers who
completed the post-intervention survey had also completed it prior to the commencement of
the project. The surveys contained a range of Likert items as described above.
We aggregated each of the two scales into two variables by calculating mean scores.
These mean scores were considered non-categorical variables for analysis purposes. A small
number of open-ended questions were included in the surveys. These open-ended questions
asked about the methods of integration of mathematics and coding that participant teachers
Page 155
were already employing. Questions were also asked about the use of digital technologies for
teaching mathematics.
The workshops were conducted in two different locations in NSW. Participating
teachers came from a range of regional and metropolitan schools and across school sectors.
Four teachers attended the 2-day workshop in the regional location, and eleven in the
metropolitan location. Participating teachers were mostly female (n = 11) and their years of
teaching experience ranged from less than 5 years to over 20. The schools where they taught
were within the public and Catholic systems and had students with a very wide range of
socioeconomic backgrounds.
At the end of the school term we invited the teachers to showcase their students’ work
at each of the two project locations. After each of the showcases, we conducted two focus
group interviews. The total number of teachers participating in the focus groups was six: two
in the regional location and four in the metropolitan location. Both focus groups were audio-
recorded and approximately one hour in duration. Questions focused on teachers’ experience
teaching coding, computational thinking and mathematics; pedagogies preferred for teaching
in these areas; professional learning to date; and details on their implementation of
We observed gains in participants’ confidence with teaching across both areas (see
Table 1). All items were presented in a 5-point scale from Strongly Disagree (coded as 1) to
Strongly Agree (coded as 5). In terms of statistical significance, a paired-samples t-test was
conducted to compare teachers’ perceptions prior to attending the workshop and after
attending (n = 8).
There was a change in teachers’ perceptions of their ability to teach mathematics with
programming before (M = 3.3, SD = 0.47) and after the intervention (M = 4.5, SD = 0.08); t
= -5.09, p = 0.037. There was also a statistically significant difference in their self-efficacy
with regards to coding and computational thinking before (M = 3.2, SD = 0.78) and after the
intervention (M = 4.3, SD = 0.23); t = -5.05, p = 0.002.
Table 1. Pre- and post-survey results (items in Mathematics scale preceded by an asterisk)
I feel confident using simple programs for the computer.
I know how to teach programming concepts effectively.
I can promote a positive attitude towards programming in my students.
I can guide students in using programming as a tool while we explore other
*I can guide students in using mathematical thinking as a tool when
I feel confident using programming as an instructional tool within my
I can adapt lesson plans to incorporate programming as an instructional tool.
Page 156
I can create original lesson plans, which incorporate programming as an
instructional tool.
*I understand how mathematics concepts relate to programming concepts.
*I appreciate the value of teaching mathematics and programming in an
integrated manner.
After attending the professional development workshops, teachers trialled the resources
with their students over a period of up to eight weeks. In the follow-up showcase and focus
group sessions with teachers, they all expressed positive sentiments about ScratchMaths.
Teachers presented student work samples, including students’ reflective comments on
ScratchMaths and unanimously reported that the students were engaged in learning and
looked forward to the ScratchMaths sessions each week. They also elaborated how the
resources were very well scaffolded and facilitated collaboration and social support for
With regards to our research questions, participant teachers reported an increased level
of self-efficacy with mathematics and coding. One teacher reflected: “mathematics has
always been my area of weakness, as a kid I had enormous anxiety in maths [but I could use
the resources because] it was very practical and made the 2D shapes understandable”.
Another teacher, who had a high level of self-efficacy from the commencement of the
project, said “maths is probably my favourite, I drive kids crazy ‘cos there’s no downtime in
maths classes [but] with coding you don’t know everything and the [resources were] prepared
so you could go back to the classroom and feel supported”.
Regarding the integration of mathematics and coding, teachers reflected that while
there was strong evidence for sustained student engagement with ScratchMaths, not all
students were actively engaged with the mathematical concepts underpinning the activities.
When this issue was discussed in the focus groups, the teachers agreed that the mathematical
aspects of the activities were not adequately understood by all students, and that in future
they need to be more explicit in directing students to engage with the mathematical
components of the module.
In the focus group conducted in the regional location one of the teachers commented
“the maths was a lesser learning outcome than the coding for us”, and the other responded,
“yes, some of them didn’t quite get the concepts. In the beginning some of them didn’t get
that they could do [360 degrees using a loop], so there was a lot of repetitions”. In the focus
group in the metropolitan area, teachers commented that in many cases students were taking a
‘trial and error’ approach to completing the patterns involved in the module, rather than
working through their solutions mathematically. They all agreed, however, that the activities
were “a good practical way to reinforce concepts” already taught.
Many argue that the term ‘computational thinking’ popularised by Jeannette Wing a
decade ago (Wing, 2006) is in no way different to logical thinking, a pedagogical construct
that is inherent in mathematics education (Grover & Pea, 2013). Thus, it would seem that
coding and mathematics are interlinked through shared conceptual ideas and therefore lend
themselves to an integrated pedagogical approach. In this pilot study we found that
participant teachers self-efficacy in relation to integrating mathematics and coding improved
significantly after a relatively short period of engagement with ScratchMaths.
Page 157
While this is a pilot project and the results on self-efficacy are not generalisable, the
observations made by participants have implications for future ScratchMaths professional
development sessions. Most of the participating teachers were coding novices, but through
the professional development sessions they readily learned the basics of coding and were able
to teach these skills to their students. However, for future professional development sessions,
more emphasis needs to be placed on the mathematical skills underpinning the ScratchMaths
modules and the pedagogical approaches that can be used to balance the mathematics and
coding content. We intend to modify the professional development we provided in this pilot
project to address the issues outlined above in order to continue our evaluation of
ScratchMaths in the context of a larger scale project.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2017). Digital Technologies. Retrieved
Agalianos, A., Whitty, G., & Noss, R. (2006). The social shaping of Logo. Social studies of science,
36(2), 241-267.
Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational
Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148.
Barr, V., & Stephenson, C. (2011). Bringing computational thinking to K-12: What is involved and
what is the role of the computer science education community? ACM Inroads, 2(1), 48-54.
Bell, T., Newton, H., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2012). The introduction of computer science to NZ
high schools: an analysis of student work. In Proceedings of the 7th Workshop in Primary and
Secondary Computing Education (WiPSCE’12). ACM, New York, USA.
Bean, N., Weese, J., Feldhausen, R., & Bell, R. S. (2015). Starting from scratch: Developing a pre-
service teacher training program in computational thinking. Proceedings of the IEEE Frontiers in
Education Conference, El Paso, Texas, USA.
Benton, L., Hoyles, C., Kalas, I., & Noss, R. (2017). Bridging primary programming and
mathematics: Some findings of design research in England. Digital Experiences in Mathematics
Education, 3(2), 115-138.
Brennan, K., & Resnick, M. (2012, April). New frameworks for studying and assessing the
development of computational thinking. In Proceedings of the 2012 annual meeting of the
American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, Canada (Vol. 1, p. 25).
Brown, N. C. C., Sentance, S., Crick, T., & Humphreys, S. (2014). Restart: The resurgence of
computer science in UK schools. Transactions in Computing Education, 14(2), 1-22.
Feurzeig, W. (1969). Programming-languages as a conceptual framework for teaching mathematics.
Final report on the first fifteen months of the LOGO Project.
Fisher, L. M. (2016). A decade of ACM efforts contribute to computer science for all.
Communications of the ACM, 59(4), 25-27.
Grover, S., & Pea, R. (2013). Computational thinking in K12: A review of the state of the field.
Educational Researcher, 42(1), 38-43.
Hoyles, C., & Noss, R. (1992). Learning mathematics and logo: MIT Press.
Kafai, Y. B., & Burke, Q. (2015). Constructionist gaming: Understanding the benefits of making
games for learning. Educational Psychologist, 50(4), 313-334.
Kafai, Y. B., & Harel, I. (1991). Children's learning through consulting: When mathematical ideas,
programming knowledge, instructional design, and playful discourse are intertwined. In I. Harel &
S. Papert (Eds.), Constructionism (pp. 85-100). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Miller, J., & Larkin, K. (2017). Using coding to promote mathematical thinking with Year 2 students:
Alignment with the Australian Curriculum. In Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the
Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, 381-388, Melbourne, Australia.
Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas: Basic Books, Inc.
Resnick, M., Maloney, J., Monroy-Hernández, A., Rusk, N., Eastmond, E., Brennan, K., Kafai, Y. B.
(2009). Scratch: Programming for all. Communications of the ACM, 52(11), 60-67.
Page 158
Rich, K. M., Strickland, C., Binkowski, T. A., Moran, C., & Franklin, D. (2017). K-8 learning
trajectories derived from research literature: Sequence, repetition, conditionals. Proceedings of
the 2017 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research, Tacoma,
Washington, USA.
Wilensky, U., & Resnick, M. (1999). Thinking in levels: A dynamic systems approach to making
sense of the world. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 8(1), 3-19.
Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33-35.
... However, their attitudes became more positive after the workshop instructors showed them how they could program a model in STARLogo and develop their own programs and models as instructional tools to include in their everyday lessons. Furthermore, most studies in the literature concluded that teacher confidence increased with increased familiarity with coding and robotics (e.g., Kay & Moss, 2012) and increased even more once teachers applied what they learned in their PL training and applied coding and robotics in their real life classrooms (Chalmers, 2018;Cooper et al., 2011;Holmes et al., 2018;Marcelino et al., 2018). Another commonly discussed conclusion was that teachers found the inclusion of coding and robotics fun and believed that the hands-on and collaborative nature of robotics increased their students' interest and motivation in class and developed their social skills (e.g., Savard & Highfield, 2015). ...
... (p. 544) Along similar lines, Holmes et al. (2018) proposed that mathematics was necessary in teaching coding (Scratch in their case), and mathematical concepts needed to be made explicit in teaching coding. ...
... Second, the studies in this field (e.g., Chalmers, 2018;Holmes et al., 2018;Wolz et al., 2011) generally focused on teachers' training in a single coding language and environment. In this study's PL course, the teachers were introduced to many platforms because of the various resources (different robotics kits) available in the schools across the district and because the district used particular kits for the robotics competitions thus provided the STEM teachers with these kits. ...
Full-text available
In this qualitative case study, we examined in-service elementary school teachers’ learning of coding and robotics in a blended professional learning course developed and delivered through the collaboration between university faculty and a school district. We focused on activity theory to understand and reveal the mediations, conflicts, and effective practices that facilitated or hindered teachers’ learning of coding and robotics. The participants of the study were twelve teachers from five different elementary schools in a rural school district. Data collection and generation sources included interviews, videos of class meetings, course assignments, and artifacts. In analyzing the data, we employed analytical approaches under the guidance of activity theory. The findings showed that teacher collaboration, coding/robotics platforms employed during the professional learning course, instructional approaches, and resources in and outside the professional learning setting mediated or conflicted with the teachers’ learning of coding and robotics depending on the way that each of these elements was employed in the course. Elaborating on these elements, we reported the implications for further research and practice.
... The role of STEM education in the school curriculum has been examined by several Australian researchers. Two main perspectives appear in the publications of mathematics education researchers, namely, (a) a general overview of the role of STEM education in the curriculum (e.g., English, 2016bEnglish, , 2017English, , 2018aTimms et al., 2018) and (b) specific studies of integrated STEM education in Australian schools (e.g., English & King, 2017;English, King, & Smeed, 2017;Holmes, Prieto-Rodrieguez, Hickmott, & Berger, 2018;Loong & Herbert, 2018). We examine the role of STEM education in the school curriculum from these two perspectives, although sometimes both perspectives are presented within the one publication. ...
Full-text available
STEM education is relatively new in the Australasian education landscape but is beginning to forge a place in school curricula. Driving the attention to STEM education are calls for the implementation of learning experiences that prepare students for a future that relies on them being innovative problem solvers. This has posed many challenges for teachers who wrestle with the most appropriate way to engage students in STEM learning while still attending to student development of mathematics discipline knowledge. The research reported in this chapter situates STEM education within current education policies and curricula, explores the various ways in which integrated STEM education is conceptualised and implemented, illustrates the role teacher education plays in preparing teachers to implement STEM learning, and showcases the student learning possible when an integrated approach to learning is adopted. This review draws attention to the diverse nature of the research undertaken in STEM education in the last four years and suggests that future research is needed to explore curriculum reforms that ensure mathematics learning is developmental, to investigate the way in which mathematical understanding supports development of understanding of other STEM disciplines, and to examine professional learning programs that assist teachers and pre-service teachers to develop pedagogies that make STEM learning effective and sustainable.
... Participant P10 gets emotional reporting how the activities took place: it took us out of the comfort zone; It is very important not to create expectations in the students which cannot be fulfilled, because they feel inserted in the process and we cannot disappoint them, I became another teacher when performing these activities. Thus, it is clear how the continuing education course contributes to provoke reflections on classroom practice, corroborating Holmes et al. (2018) who, after an activity that lasted eight weeks, also observed changes in teachers' perceptions of their ability to teach Mathematics with programming. ...
Full-text available
This article investigates how the recent implementation of programming in school mathematics interacts with algebraic thinking and learning. Based on Duval’s theory of semiotic representations, we analyze in what ways syntax and semantics of programming languages are aligned with or divert from corresponding algebraic symbolism. Three examples of programming activities suggested for school mathematics are discussed in detail. We argue that although the semiotic representations of programming languages are similar to algebraic notation the meanings of several concepts in these two domains differ. In a learning perspective these differences must be taken into account, especially considering that students have to convert between registers with both overlapping and specific meanings.
Full-text available
In this paper we present the background, aims and methodology of the ScratchMaths (SM) project, which has designed curriculum materials and professional development (PD) to support mathematical learning through programming for pupils aged between 9 and 11 years. The project was framed by the particular context of computing in the English education system alongside the long history of research and development in programming and mathematics. In this paper, we present a “framework for action” (diSessa and Cobb 2004) following design research that looked to develop an evidence-based curriculum intervention around carefully chosen mathematical and computational concepts. As a first step in teasing out factors for successful implementation and addressing any gap between our design intentions and teacher delivery, we focus on two key foundational concepts within the SM curriculum: the concept of algorithm and of 360-degree total turn. We found that our intervention as a whole enabled teachers with different backgrounds and levels of confidence to tailor the delivery of the SM in ways that can make these challenging concepts more accessible for both themselves and their pupils.
Full-text available
There has been considerable interest in examining the educational potential of playing video games. One crucial element, however, has traditionally been left out of these discussions—namely, children's learning through making their own games. In this article, we review and synthesize 55 studies from the last decade on making games and learning. We found that the majority of studies focused on teaching coding and academic content through game making, and that few studies explicitly examined the roles of collaboration and identity in the game making process. We argue that future discussions of serious gaming ought to be more inclusive of constructionist approaches to realize the full potential of serious gaming. Making games, we contend, not only more genuinely introduces children to a range of technical skills but also better connects them to each other, addressing the persistent issues of access and diversity present in traditional digital gaming cultures.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In 2011 New Zealand introduced computer science as a topic that students could take as part of their studies in the last three years of high school. The change was initiated in late 2008, so the new material was introduced with barely two years of preparation and minimal teacher training. Despite this tight timeline, many schools adopted the new topic, and many students successfully completed assessment in it in 2011. The format of the assessment was required to be a report. In this paper we look carefully at the work that students submitted by examining publicly available information (statistics, markers' comments and exemplars), and performing a detailed analysis of a sample of 151 student papers. We describe the nature of the assessment (which is report-based with very flexible criteria for how students can demonstrate their understanding), and examine the kind of work that students submitted to meet the criteria, drawing out good practices that enabled students to do well. A recurring theme is the importance of students being able to use personal authentic examples so that the examiner can hear the "student's voice" in their report work, which provides evidence that the student has understood the topic rather than paraphrased descriptions. The analysis also reveals the value of prompting students effectively to get them engaged properly with the concepts, and identifies successful ways to achieve this in the three areas of the analysed standard (algorithms, programming languages and usability).
Full-text available
Jeannette Wing’s influential article on computational thinking 6 years ago argued for adding this new competency to every child’s analytical ability as a vital ingredient of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. What is computational thinking? Why did this article resonate with so many and serve as a rallying cry for educators, education researchers, and policy makers? How have they interpreted Wing’s definition, and what advances have been made since Wing’s article was published? This article frames the current state of discourse on computational thinking in K–12 education by examining mostly recently published academic literature that uses Wing’s article as a springboard, identifies gaps in research, and articulates priorities for future inquiries.
Full-text available
The process of increasing student exposure to computational thinking in K-12 is complex, requiring systemic change, teacher engagement, and development of signifi cant resources. Collaboration with the computer science education community is vital to this effort.
Conference Paper
Computing curricula are being developed for elementary school classrooms, yet research evidence is scant for learning trajectories that drive curricular decisions about what topics should be addressed at each grade level, at what depth, and in what order. This study presents learning trajectories based on an in-depth review of over 100 scholarly articles in computer science education research. We present three levels of results. First, we present the characteristics of the 600+ learning goals and their research context that affected the learning trajectory creation process. Second, we describe our first three learning trajectories (Sequence, Repetition, and Conditionals), and the relationship between the learning goals and the resulting trajectories. Finally, we discuss the ways in which assumptions about the context (mathematics) and language (e.g., Scratch) directly influenced the trajectories.
Conference Paper
In this paper, we present data from a study exploring the use of coding to promote mathematical thinking. A teaching experiment was undertaken with 40 Year 2 students participating in six 45-minute lessons of coding (one lesson per week for six weeks). All lessons were video-recorded and analysed to determine students’ mathematical thinking. Insights from the study reveal that coding contexts promoted higher levels of mathematical thinking for Year 2 students including measuring angles, orientation and perspective taking, and deducing repeating patterns.
Conference Paper
This paper details a series of pre-professional development interventions to assist teachers in utilizing computational thinking and programming as an instructional tool within other subject areas (i.e. music, language arts, mathematics, and science). It describes the lessons utilized in the interventions along with the instruments used to evaluate them, and offers some preliminary findings.
Computer science in UK schools is undergoing a remarkable transformation. While the changes are not consistent across each of the four devolved nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), there are developments in each that are moving the subject to become mandatory for all pupils from age 5 onwards. In this paper, we detail how computer science declined in the UK, and the developments that led to its revitalisation: a mixture of industry and interest group lobbying, with a particular focus on the value of the subject to all school pupils, not just those who would study it at degree level. This rapid growth in the subject is not without issues, however: there remain significant forthcoming challenges with its delivery, especially surrounding the issue of training sufficient numbers of teachers. We describe a national network of teaching excellence which is being set up to combat this problem, and look at the other challenges that lie ahead.