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Changing Computer Programming Education; The Dinosaur that Survived in School: An explorative study of educational issues based on teachers' beliefs and curriculum development in secondary school
KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE), Learning.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6012-6834
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

With the intention to contribute to research in computer programming education the thesis depicts the mind-set of teachers and their beliefs in relation to the early enactment of the informatics curriculum in Swedish upper secondary school. Two perspectives are covered in the thesis. Based on original documents and interviews with curriculum developers, the enactment of the informatics/programming curriculum during the 1970s and 1980s is explored (Paper 1). This historical perspective is supplemented with a perspective from the present day where current teaching practice is explored through teachers’ statements (seminars with associated questionnaires) regarding their beliefs about teaching and learning programming (Paper 2).

The historical data reveals that experimental work within the informatics curriculum was initiated in the mid-1970s. In the early stages of the curriculum development process a contemporary post gymnasium programme in computing was used as a blueprint. The curriculum relied on programming as well as system development, wherefore a question of importance was raised early in the process; should the subject matter of informatics, be taught by ‘regular’ Natural Sciences and Mathematics teachers or by contemporary vocational education teachers in ADP? The question was initially solved using stereotypical examples of how to apply system development, which was later suggested as a replacement for programming activities. The initial incitement to offer informatics education during the 1970s was discovered in the recruitment of a broader group of students within the Natural Science Programme and the perception that it would contribute to the development of students’ ability to think logically and problem solving skills.

The thesis unravels an instructional dependence among today’s teachers where students’ logical and analytical abilities (even before the courses start) are considered crucial to students’ learning, while teachers question the importance of their pedagogy. Teachers in the study commonly express the belief that their instructions hardly matter to the students’ learning. Instead these teachers perceive learning programming as an individual act. The inquiry also discover two types of instruction; a large group putting emphasis on the syntax of programming languages, and a smaller group putting emphasis on the students’ experiences of learning concepts of computer science (not necessarily to do with syntax), which corresponds with the existence of two groups of teachers during the 1980s; the partisans who perceived learning as based on repeating sequences in a behaviouristic manner, and defenders who perceived learning as based on discovery and self-teaching.

In summary the inquiry depicts an instructional tradition based on teachers’ beliefs where the historical development of the subject sets the framework for the teaching. Directly and indirectly the historical development and related traditions govern what programming teachers in upper secondary school will/are able to present to their students.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. , ix, 93 p.
, Trita-ECE, 2012:02
Keyword [en]
programming education, teachers' beliefs, curriculum development, upper secondary school
National Category
Educational Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-105768ISBN: 978-91-7501-559-0OAI: diva2:572614
2012-12-20, Salongen, Osquarsbacke 31, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

QC 20121129

Available from: 2012-11-29 Created: 2012-11-26 Last updated: 2012-11-29Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Informatics and Programming in Swedish Upper Secondary School: Visions and experimental work during the 1970s and 1980s
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Informatics and Programming in Swedish Upper Secondary School: Visions and experimental work during the 1970s and 1980s
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
National Category
Educational Sciences
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-106196 (URN)

QS 2012

Available from: 2012-11-29 Created: 2012-11-29 Last updated: 2012-11-29Bibliographically approved
2. Teachers' Beliefs Regarding Progamming Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teachers' Beliefs Regarding Progamming Education
2013 (English)In: Technology Teachers as Researchers, Sense Publishers, 2013, 285-309 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The paper explores the beliefs of today’s programming teachers from the following research question: What beliefs do programming teachers express regarding teaching and learning computer programming in upper secondary school? To answer that question four seminars were offered focusing on upper secondary programming education. At each seminar, a questionnaire designed to elicit teachers’ beliefs about aspects of importance for their instructional design and students learning was given to the teachers/informants.

The analysis showed four themes in relation to teachers’ beliefs about learning and teaching: 1. Students’ individual connective time, 2. Teachers’ pedagogy, 3. Students’ abilities, 4. Students’ interest and motivation.

The assessment process is crucial to teachers’ choice of instruction strategies. This is particularly valid in the beginners’ course, where collaboration among students (peer-learning) is often practiced, and where skills essential to working in groups are commonly considered not to be important. In conclusion it could be said that two distinctive instructional patterns exist among teachers; individual support, and instruction for experience of learning.

A majority of the teachers in the study express a number of expectations concerning their students’ abilities; specific abilities such as logical and analytical thinking are emphasized as important for successful learning, while the ability to work in a group and to communicate is perceived as beneficial but not of any concern during the assessment process. The paper raises the question of whether teachers perceive abilities as fixed and inborn (naïve belief) or something that students could acquire with some effort (sophisticated belief). Findings suggest that a majority of the teachers hold a naïve belief. Findings also show that the teachers in the study focus on the individual, constructivist based learning which indicate that the teachers in the study commonly hold on to relativistic world-views. The concept of pedagogy were also discovered significant as many teachers question the importance of their pedagogy for students' learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sense Publishers, 2013
, International Technology Education Studies, 10
beliefs, epistemology, programming, education, teachers
National Category
Didactics Educational Sciences
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-105758 (URN)10.1007/978-94-6209-443-7_13 (DOI)978-94-6209-443-7 (ISBN)

Updated from accepted to published. QC 20150227

Available from: 2012-11-27 Created: 2012-11-26 Last updated: 2015-02-27Bibliographically approved

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