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Does teaching computer programming within Key Stage 1 of the primary curriculum enhance children's problem solving skills?

In light of the changes to the ICT curriculum in England (DfE, 2013), this research examined the implications of developing a computer programming initiative into the Key Stage 1 curriculum in Jersey’s primary schools. A number of studies have identified skills that can be developed through a programming environment (Lochead and Clements, 1979; Papert, 1993 and Clements and Gullo, 1994), but the narrative around the assessment of these skills remains very much in its infancy (De Araujo, Andrade and Sere Guerrero, 2016). This study hypothesised that teaching computer programming within the Key Stage 1 curriculum would enhance children’s ability to problem solve, drawing on theoretical influences from Dewey (2012), Piaget (1965), Papert (1993) and more current notions of learning power and resilience held by Costa and Kallick (2000), Claxton (2007) and Claxton and Lucas (2015). A mixed methods approach was adopted for this observational study and a multiple linear regression analysis conducted. A bespoke online assessment tool was created, based on Blockly (Google for Education, 2016), to gather data on children’s problem solving skills. The assessment was two phase; phase 1 (2014 cohort) involved 335 children and phase 2 (2015 cohort) involved 387 children. Phase 1 gathered baseline data prior to the computer programming intervention that was delivered over one full term with phase 2. In addition, interviews were undertaken with all Year 2 practitioners and focus group sessions were held with some of the Year 2 children involved in the ‘Primary Coding Project’ (States of Jersey, 2014) to ascertain their perceptions of the newly introduced computing sessions. This data helped to shed light on some of the nuances involved in developing, implementing and integrating a new curriculum. After considering the effects of gender and maths attainment, results revealed that participating in the coding intervention increased the total score attained in the problem solving activity, implying that computer programming is an important pedagogical approach to promoting problem solving skills and therefore, computational thinking. A relational shift between children and computers was also identified, which supported the notion of children being able to adapt to and create with new technologies of the future, contributing to the notion of supporting and developing resilience.
Date January 2017
CreatorsBlakemore, Lynn
ContributorsLevy, Rachael ; Lamar, Jamal
PublisherUniversity of Sheffield
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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