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.