Informatics Education in School: A Multi-Year Large-Scale Study on Female Participation and Teachers’ Beliefs
This paper describes the outcomes of a multi-year large-scale study on Informatics education in school, involving an average of 3,600 teachers per school year of all school levels. The study has been conducted in Italy, where - generally speaking - there is no compulsory informatics education in school. Teachers have voluntarily enrolled in the “Programma il Futuro” project, running since 2014, and have taught short introductory courses in Informatics. Answering - anonymously - to monitoring questionnaires, they have indicated whether girls or boys were more interested in Informatics activities and whether girls or boys were more effective.
Answers show that the difference between the number of teachers thinking boys are more interested (or more effective) and the number of those judging girls more interested (or more effective) has constantly decreased over school years during the project. This variation in teachers’ beliefs over school years - that we attribute to their involvement in project activities - is important, since teachers’ beliefs are known to influence students’ motivations, hence their future choices. Our opinion is reinforced by the results of a differential analysis, in each school year, between teachers repeating activities and those executing them for the first time.
Moreover, the analysis of disaggregated data shows that the difference between boys and girls relative to interest or effectiveness increases going up in school level. Our results provide an empirical support to the belief that it is important to start Informatics education early in school, before gender stereotypes consolidate.
KeywordsInformatics education in school Broadening participation Gender and diversity
We greatly thank teachers and students involved in “Programma il Futuro” (coordinated by EN) and Code.org for their cooperation.
We acknowledge the financial support for school year 2018–19 of: Eni; Engineering; SeeWeb; TIM. Other companies have financially supported PiF in previous school years, see https://programmailfuturo.it/partner.
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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