Teaching Computing: strategies reported by teachers

As part of the Computing At School (CAS) Survey 2014 we asked all the teacher respondents to tell us what their best strategies were for teaching Computing, including programming, and what the challenges were. Over 300 teachers gave us their comments and the paper reports on the findings.

Overall, the nuts and bolts of it are that many teachers talked about using one or more of these strategies to support their teaching:

  • Kinaesthetic, unplugged methods
  • Collaboration and group work
  • Computational thinking as a focus
  • Contextualised, real-world examples and scenarios
  • Scaffolding, particularly with regard to programming

This might be useful guidance for new teachers starting to teach Computing and choosing appropriate resources. Over time, teachers develop pedagogical content knowledge which embodies everything known about teaching a particular subject effectively. In a time of rapid curriculum change, subject knowledge is not all that is new. Developing pedagogical approaches that work for Computing are also important too.

In terms of challenges, some of those reported were challenges for students tackling new subject matter, some were challenges teachers faced in getting to grips with the new curriculum, and these will take time, but many were practical things such as technical support, release time for CPD from headteachers, time to prepare new schemes of work, resources, etc. all of which can be fixed if Computing is regarded as a priority in schools. Teachers can feel isolated if they are the only Computing expert in their school.

More information about this study is available in this paper: Computing in the Curriculum: Strategies and Challenges from a teachers’ perspective

A new initiative by CAS, funded by Microsoft, is focusing on helping headteachers to see what is important about Computing and how they can implement it effectively and support their staff. Hopefully this will have a positive impact on some of the challenges faced by teachers currently.

Sue Sentance