Computational thinking in compulsory education: a survey study on initiatives and conceptions
This article communicates the results of a Danish survey study conducted in 2018 that aimed to examine initiatives relating to computational thinking in primary and lower-secondary schools, as well as the professional development of teachers and the perceptions of school principals in this area. The context is an increasing interest in this field, motivated by a sense that it is important for children to learn computational thinking skills. However, educators struggle with questions regarding what computational thinking in education actually is—and consequently, how they should teach and assess it. In this survey, we wanted to explore existing practices and current situations to find out what school principals regard as important; thus, we designed an electronic questionnaire on this topic. 98 principals started the survey, and 83 completed it. Our analysis suggests that many initiatives connected to computational thinking are currently being implemented, but according to the principals taking part, teachers are not trained to teach this subject. The principals have inclusive views and focus on broad aspects of what computational thinking involves. According to them, computational thinking is not about pushing students into computing careers; rather it is about supporting the well-rounded development of human beings in a free and democratic society. However, the principals do report limited understanding of this subject, which suggests that teachers are not the only ones in need of training—principals also need help to develop a culture and mindset around this subject and implement it efficiently into schools.
KeywordsComputational thinking Technological understanding Computing curriculum Compulsory education
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- DLF (n.d.). The school of the community. http://eng.uvm.dk/primary-and-lower-secondary-education/the-folkeskole/about-the-folkeskole.
- EMU (2019). Teknologiforståelse. https://www.emu.dk/grundskole/teknologiforstaelse.
- EVA (2015). 4 elementer i god skoleledelse. https://www.eva.dk/grundskole/4-elementer-skoleledelse.
- ISTE (2016). ISTE standards for students. https://id.iste.org/docs/Standards-Resources/iste-standards_students-2016_one-sheet_final.pdf?sfvrsn=0.23432948779836327.
- Jung, M., & Carstens, R. (eds.) (2013). International Computer and Information Literacy Study. ICILS 2013 User Guide for the International Database. IEA Secretariat.Google Scholar
- Malmberg, A. C. (1970). Datalogi i skolen: Læreruddannelsen—en flaskehals. Uddannelse: Undervisningsministeriets tidsskrift. Årg., 3, 72–76.Google Scholar
- Naur, P. (1966). Datalogi og datamatik og deres placering i uddannelsen. Magisterbladet, 15. maj 1966.Google Scholar
- Naur, P. (1968). Demokrati i datamatiseringens tidsalder. Kriterium, 3(5). Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck.Google Scholar
- Naur, P. (1992). Computing: A Human Activity. New York: ACM Press.Google Scholar
- NGSS States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Schäfer, M. V. (2018). Ny undersøgelse: Hver fjerde lærer føler sig stresset. Folkeskolen.dk. https://www.folkeskolen.dk/624472/ny-undersoegelse-hver-fjerde-laerer-foeler-sig-stresset.
- Tedre, M., & Denning, P. J. (2016). The Long Quest for Computational Thinking. Proceedings of the 16th Koli Calling Conference on Computing Education Research, November 24–27, 2016, Koli, pp. 120–129. https://doi.org/10.1145/2999541.2999542.
- Undervisningsministeriet. (1972). Betænkning om EDB-undervisning (p. 666). Betænkning nr: Det offentlige uddannelsessystem.Google Scholar
- Undervisningsministeriet (2013). Agreement between the Danish Government (the Social Democrats, the Social-Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party), the Liberal Party of Denmark and the Danish People’s Party on an improvement of standards in the Danish public school (primary and lower secondary education). http://eng.uvm.dk/-/media/filer/enguvm/enguvm/pdf/13/131007-folkeskolereformaftale-eng-red–2-.pdf?la=en.
- Undervisningsministeriet (2015). Ledelse af den nye folkeskole. Syv ledelsesfelter til skoleledelser og forvaltninger. https://arkiv.emu.dk/sites/default/files/UVM%20Skoleledelse_WEB.pdf.
- Undervisningsministeriet (2018a). The Aims of the Folkeskole. http://eng.uvm.dk/primary-and-lower-secondary-education/the-folkeskole/the-aims-of-the-folkeskole.
- Undervisningsministeriet (2018b). Undervisningsministeren vil gøre teknologiforståelse obligatorisk i folkeskolen. https://uvm.dk/aktuelt/nyheder/uvm/2018/jan/180126-undervisningsministeren-vil-goere-teknologiforstaaelse-obligatorisk-i-folkeskolen.