An Investigation of Italian Primary School Teachers’ View on Coding and Programming
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This paper reports the results of an investigation involving almost a thousand primary school teachers in Italy, to explore their views on the terms “coding” and “programming”, and how they are related to their ideas on “computational thinking”.
When directly asked “if coding is different from writing programs”, roughly 2 out of 3 teachers answered “no”. Among the teachers who answered “yes”, almost 160 tried to motivate the difference: a few of them gave admissible explanations, while the others showed various misunderstandings, which we classify and discuss.
By contrast, when asked about their idea of “what coding is”, only 4 out of 10 of the teachers explicitly linked coding to programming, but an additional 2 out of 10 cited an information processing agent executing instructions. The remaining part of the sample did not provide explicit or implicit links between coding and programming.
Our investigation shows that untrained teachers hold misconceptions regarding CS and its related terms. Given the general public and media attention on “coding” in schools, currently taught by existing teachers - mostly not appropriately trained, professional development actions focusing on CS scientific principles and methods are therefore a top priority for the effectiveness of CS education in schools.
KeywordsCoding and programming Primary school teachers Informatics education
We greatly thank teachers and students involved in Programma il Futuro project (coordinated by EN) and Code.org for their cooperation.
We acknowledge the financial support of Engineering, TIM; CA Technologies, De Agostini Scuola, SeeWeb. Other companies have financially supported the project for two school-years only: Samsung Italia; Microsoft Italia; Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Facebook.
Rai Cultura, the culture department of Italian national public broadcasting company, is a media partner of the project since February 2017.
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