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Computing in school and the teaching of programming

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Refreshments available from 4.15pm

How we teach computer programming in school is a relatively new area of research, although increasingly important with the introduction of computing as a curriculum subject both in England and around the world. To truly champion computing literacy, we need to understand how the learning of programming can be truly accessible to all. In this presentation I will give an overview of computing education research and the role of programming in school. I will then discuss a particular classroom strategy known as PRIMM . The PRIMM strategy for teaching programming acknowledges the role of mediating factors, including language and tools, hence aligning to a sociocultural perspective. Highlighting classroom interaction, use of language, and the tools and techniques used, as well as cognitive factors, can support teachers in developing their PCK (pedagogical content knowledge) for the teaching of programming. In the presentation I will describe a study carried out in 2018 to investigate whether the use of PRIMM to teach programming had an impact on learner attainment in secondary school, and the extent to which it was valuable for teachers. PRIMM was evaluated in 13 schools with around 500 students aged 11-14 using a mixed-methods approach. Findings showed that PRIMM was beneficial to learners’ progress, and that teachers found it positively supported their teaching practice. Implications of this work in the context of current research in computing education will be discussed.

Dr Sue Sentance works at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and is a Visiting Fellow at King’s College London, where until recently she was a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science Education. She carries out research in the areas of computer science pedagogy, curriculum development in computer science, and teacher professional development. She was recently part of the Royal Society working group which produced the 2017 report on computing education in the UK, After The Reboot. Previously a Computing teacher, she led the PGCE computer science (formerly ICT ) at King’s College London, and prior to that at Anglia Ruskin University. She recently published an edited book “Computer Science Education: Perspectives on Teaching and Learning”. Whilst at KCL Sue set up the Computing Education Research Centre (CERC), an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers in education, computer science and digital humanities. In her current role, Sue leads the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s work as part of the National Centre for Computing Education (https://teachcomputing.org/), which includes developing comprehensive resources for teachers and students in computing, and progressing pedagogy in the field. In 2017, Sue was awarded the BERA Public Engagement and Impact Award for her work in removing the barriers to computing education.

This talk is part of the Science & Technology Education Research Group ( S &TERG) series.

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