Early Developmental Activities and Computing Proficiency

Cutts, Q. , Patitsas, E., Cole, E., Donaldson, P. , Alshaigy, B., Gutica, M., Hellas, A., Larraza-Mendiluze, E., McCartney, R. and Riedesel, C. (2018) Early Developmental Activities and Computing Proficiency. In: Proceedings of the 2017 ITiCSE Conference on Working Group Reports - ITiCSE-WGR '17, Bologna, Italy, 03-05 July 2017, pp. 140-157. ISBN 9781450356275 (doi:10.1145/3174781.3174789)

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Abstract

As countries adopt computing education for all pupils from primary school upwards, there are challenging indicators: significant proportions of students who choose to study computing at universities fail the introductory courses, and the evidence for links between formal education outcomes and success in CS is limited. Yet, as we know, some students succeed without prior computing experience. Why is this?

Some argue for an innate ability, some for motivation, some for the discrepancies between the expectations of instructors and students, and some – simply – for how programming is being taught. All agree that becoming proficient in computing is not easy. Our research takes a novel view on the problem and argues that some of that success is influenced by early childhood experiences outside formal education.

In this study, we analyzed over 1300 responses to a multi-institutional and multi-national survey that we developed. The survey captures enjoyment of early developmental activities such as childhood toys, games and pastimes between the ages 0 — 8 as well as later life experiences with computing. We identify unifying features of the computing experiences in later life, and attempt to link these computing experiences to the childhood activities.

The analysis indicates that computing proficiency should be seen from multiple viewpoints, including both skill-level and confidence. It shows that particular early childhood experiences are linked to parts of computing proficiency, namely those related to confidence with problem solving using computing technology. These are essential building blocks for more complex use. We recognize issues in the experimental design that may prevent our data showing a link between early activities and more complex computing skills, and suggest adjustments. Ultimately, it is hoped that this line of research will feed in to early years and primary education, and thereby improve computing education for all.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cole, Elizabeth and Cutts, Professor Quintin and Donaldson, Mr Peter
Authors: Cutts, Q., Patitsas, E., Cole, E., Donaldson, P., Alshaigy, B., Gutica, M., Hellas, A., Larraza-Mendiluze, E., McCartney, R., and Riedesel, C.
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Publisher:Association for Computing Machinery
ISBN:9781450356275
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the 2017 ITiCSE Conference on Working Group Reports - ITiCSE-WGR '17: 140-157
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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