ACM Transactions on Computing Education

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Editorial: Computing Education in (K-12) Schools from a Cross-National Perspective

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Josh Tenenberg, Robert McCartney

This special issue on computing education in (K-12) schools represents considerable effort by the editorial team, authors, and reviewers. It provides a series of country-specific case studies of computing education in schools that highlights the way in which curricula emerge from each country’s specific historical and cultural circumstances. As a result, not only is there much to learn from each of the case studies, but there are additional lessons in the commonalities and generalizations obtainable only by having a rich set of case studies such as these that can be viewed comparatively.

Perspectives and Visions of Computer Science Education in Primary and Secondary (K-12) Schools

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Peter Hubwieser, Michal Armoni, Michail N. Giannakos, Roland T. Mittermeir

In view of the recent developments in many countries, for example, in the USA and in the UK, it appears that computer science education (CSE) in primary or secondary schools (K-12) has reached a significant turning point, shifting its focus from ICT-oriented to rigorous computer science concepts. The goal of this special issue is to offer a publication platform for soundly based in-depth experiences that have been made around the world with concepts, approaches, or initiatives that aim at supporting this shift. For this purpose, the article format was kept as large as possible, enabling the authors to explain many facets of their concepts and experiences in detail.

A Tale of Two Countries: Successes and Challenges in K-12 Computer Science Education in Israel and the United States

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Judith Gal-Ezer, Chris Stephenson

This article tells a story of K-12 computer science in two different countries. These two countries differ profoundly in culture, language, government and state structure, and in their education systems. Despite these differences, however, they share the pursuit of excellence and high standards in K-12 education. In Israel, curriculum is determined at the national level. The high-school computer science curriculum has been in place for more than 20 years and is offered in all schools as an elective similar to biology, chemistry, and physics. The picture in the United States is more complex and therefore less amenable to generalization. Because educational policy is set at the state and sometimes even at the school district level, access to computer science courses and the content of those courses can vary even for schools within the same district.

Restart: The Resurgence of Computer Science in UK Schools

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Neil C. C. Brown, Sue Sentance, Tom Crick, Simon Humphreys

Computer science in UK schools is undergoing a remarkable transformation. While the changes are not consistent across each of the four devolved nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), there are developments in each that are moving the subject to become mandatory for all pupils from age 5 onwards. In this article, we detail how computer science declined in the UK, and the developments that led to its revitalisation: a mixture of industry and interest group lobbying, with a particular focus on the value of the subject to all school pupils, not just those who would study it at degree level.

A Case Study of the Introduction of Computer Science in NZ Schools

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Tim Bell, Peter Andreae, Anthony Robins

For many years computing in New Zealand schools was focused on teaching students how to use computers, and there was little opportunity for students to learn about programming and computer science as formal subjects. In this article we review a series of initiatives that occurred from 2007 to 2009 that led to programming and computer science being made available formally as part of the National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA), the main school-leaving assessment, in 2011. The changes were phased in from 2011 to 2013, and we review this process using the Darmstadt model, including describing the context of the school system, the socio-cultural factors in play before, during and after the changes, the nature of the new standards, the reactions and roles of the various stakeholders, and the teaching materials and methods that developed.

Computer Science Education in French Secondary Schools: Historical and Didactical Perspectives

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Georges-Louis Baron, Beatrice Drot-Delange, Monique Grandbastien, Françoise Tort

Computer science as a school subject in France is characterized by a succession of promising starts that have not yet been transformed into perennial solutions. The main goal of this article is to analyze this complex situation from a historical perspective, and describe the current rebirth of an optional Computer Science course in the last year of secondary education, together with other initiatives that might contribute to introducing Computer Science as a school subject. We also aim at discussing some perspectives for the future to support a better informatics education for all students. The sources we have used are mainly historical and administrative, however we have also drawn on empirical research and surveys conducted since the seventies.

Programming in School: Look Back to Move Forward

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Lennart Rolandsson, Inga-Britt Skogh

In this article, the development of the Swedish informatics curriculum during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s is studied and described. The study’s design is inspired by the curriculum theory presented by Lindensjö and Lundgren [2000], who suggest using the concept of arenas (the arenas of enactment, transformation and realisation) when discussing curriculum development. Data collection in this study comprises activities and actors in the arenas of enactment and transformation. Collected data include contemporary articles, journals, reports, booklets, government documents and archived documents. Findings show that informatics education in Sweden evolved from primarily focusing on programming knowledge related to automatic data processing and offered exclusively in vocational education (the 1960s and 1970s) to later (early 1980s) being introduced in the upper secondary school curriculum under the heading Datakunskap.

Georgia Computes! An Intervention in a US State, with Formal and Informal Education in a Policy Context

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Mark Guzdial, Barbara Ericson, Tom Mcklin, Shelly Engelman

Georgia Computes! (GaComputes) was a six-year (2006--2012) project to improve computing education across the state of Georgia in the United States, funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of GaComputes was to broaden participation in computing and especially to engage more members of underrepresented groups which includes women, African Americans, and Hispanics. GaComputes’ interventions were multi-faceted and broad: summer camps and after-school/weekend programs for 4th--12th grade students, professional development for secondary teachers, and professional development for post-secondary instructors faculty. All of the efforts were carefully evaluated by an external team (led by the third and fourth authors), which provides us with an unusually detailed view into a computing education intervention across a region (about 59K square miles, about 9.9 million residents).

School Subject Informatics (Computer Science) in Russia: Educational Relevant Areas

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Evgeniy Khenner, Igor Semakin

This article deals with some aspects of studying Informatics in Russian schools. Those aspects are part of the ‘third dimension’ of the Darmstadt model (they are also projected on the other two dimensions of this model) and include evolution of the subject, regulatory norms conforming to the Federal Educational Standards, the learning objectives, the required learning outcomes, and the Unified National Examination in Informatics, which is required for admission to a number of university programs. It is interesting to note that correspondence between requirements for the outcomes of learning Informatics in Russian school and the requirements of K-12 Computer Science Standards (USA) is quite satisfactory.

Informatics Education in Italian Secondary Schools

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:00
Carlo Bellettini, Violetta Lonati, Dario Malchiodi, Mattia Monga, Anna Morpurgo, Mauro Torelli, Luisa Zecca

This article describes the state of informatics education in the Italian secondary schools, highlighting how the learning objectives set up by the Ministry of Education are difficult to meet, due to the fact that the subject is often taught by teachers not holding an informatics degree, the lack of suitable teaching material and the expectations of pupils and families, who tend to identify informatics with the use of computer applications.