Computing in Education: A study of computing in education and ways to enhance students’ perceptions and understanding of computing

Authors: Albinson, P.

Editors: Jeary, S.

There is a huge demand for computing skills in industry due to computing becoming ubiquitous and essential for modern life. Yet despite this, industry struggles to find employees with suitable computing skills and similarly Further and Higher Education institutions have observed a lack of interest in their computing courses in recent years.

This study looks at possible reasons for this lack of interest in computing, how computing is taught in education and ways to improve students’ perceptions and understanding of computing. It focuses around a case study of a university outreach event for secondary schools which investigated how interactive teaching methods can be used to enhance students’ perceptions and understanding of computing and to increase their computing knowledge. It includes the use of physical computing and was designed to make computing fun, motivational and relevant, and to provide examples of real-world applications. Surveys were used before and after the event to understand what students’ impressions and knowledge of computing is and to see if the event improved these. Observations were also used to see how well the students handled the event’s content and whether they appeared to enjoy and understand it.

Results from the case study indicate that interactive teaching methods enhance computing education, and physical computing with electronics can enhance lessons and show the relevance of computing with examples of real-world applications, and can be fun and motivational. The case study provides teachers with example tasks and challenges they can use with their students and/or ideas around other interactive teaching methods including practical computing.

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