New interdisciplinary Computing Education Research Centre (CERC) at KCL

Computing is now integral to all sectors of the economy and society, to all aspects of public and private life, and has become a core subject in the curriculum in England from age 5 -16. As yet minimal research exists on how and what to teach in school and studies of effective pedagogies in university computing courses have only recently began to emerge. There is an urgent need for high-quality research which can contribute to the development of new theoretical frameworks to inform our understanding of computing education across all age groups and sectors. This can span several disciplines and needs to involve educators of students of all ages in order to have real impact in the classroom.

We are delighted to be able to launch a new research centre in computing education connecting expertise in education, computing, robotics and digital humanities. Computing Education research is a new and emerging field, with a small but growing body of research – however the research potential is huge and the future very exciting!

Members of the team will work on one or more of the following three research strands:

Strand 1: Programming & Robotics. This strand concerns the concepts, tools, techniques and pedagogical approaches in the area of programming, digital making, physical computing and robotics. This strand will cover research in school, higher education and in informal learning contexts, and will seek to develop our theoretical understanding of concepts and pedagogy, while making a key contribution to developing methodological frameworks and tools for research in this area.

Strand 2: Digital equity. This strand concerns making computing accessible to all regardless of difference, including with regard to gender, disability and social class. The recent US curriculum K-12 framework for Computer Science launched in the USA states that “Computer science for all students requires that equity be at the forefront of any reform effort”. This extends to all age groups, not just school children.

Strand 3: Data and education. This strand concerns the need for work that develops an understanding of big data and data science in education. An understanding of data is increasingly becoming a key competence for all students both as a core component of socio-technically aware citizenship and in employment.

Why now?

This development is very timely. The IT skills shortage is well documented, and in order to attract young people to such careers, research needs to underpin and drive effective education. Globally, its inclusion of computing in school from age 5 upwards puts England ahead of the rest of the world and in an ideal position to conduct pioneering research. Furthermore there is a pressing need to increase research capacity in the UK in computing education, as reported in the Royal Society report After the Reboot published in November 2017.

Our plans for the Centre are initially to work in interdisciplinary teams to develop at least one substantial research project in each strand. We are also planning to hold a one-day conference in June 2018 relating to computing education across disciplines.

The CERC Team

Leads from each department
Sue Sentance,
ECSSue Headshot Smaller
Michael Kolling,
Mark Cote,
Digital HumanitiesMarkCote-2
Other members of CERC Team
Neil Brown,
Alan Cribb,
Lulu Healy,
KCL ECS Headshots Oct 2017 at the  on the 25/10/2017. Photo: David Tett
Elizabeth Sklar,
Informatics (Robotics)Sklar,-Elizabeth124x179
Mary Webb,
KCL ECS Headshots Oct 2017 at the  on the 25/10/2017. Photo: David Tett
Steffan Zschaler, InformaticsSteffenZschaler79x128 Jennifer Pybus,
Digital Humanitiesjenniferpybus


External partners:

Professor Paul Curzon (Queen Mary University of London)

Dr William Marsh (Queen Mary University of London)

Simon Humphreys (Computing At School)

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