Fifteen years of introductory programming in schools: A global overview of K-12 initiatives

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Department of Computer Science


Computing education and outreach in the K--12 school sector have shown significant growth over recent decades, resulting in a large body of literature focused on the teaching and learning of computing. Despite this extensive literature, we are not aware of global overviews on teaching and learning programming as opposed to computing or computational thinking in K--12. We conducted a systematic review of the literature on introductory programming from 2003 to 2017. In this paper we review the papers that were set in the K--12 context with the aim of exploring developments that have been made in teaching introductory K--12 programming during this period. These include new programming languages, tools, teaching methods, and outreach programs. The impetus for these innovations was often a desire to provide interesting and engaging learning experiences and to ensure an appropriate level of instruction for a particular age group. Many initiatives were driven by changes to national curricula to mandate the teaching of programming. We find that there is a need for long-term studies to identify the most effective pedagogical approaches. We also identify a major need faced by many countries for training and resources to support teachers through the curriculum changes.

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Proceedings of the 19th Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research