Computing Science Research
One of the most notable things to come out of the latest royal society report into schools based computing is the recommendation that there needs to be more research into computing teaching and learning.
I welcome this as it will improve our subject.
How should teachers treat new computing research?
Class test first
We should try out new things and add them to our collection of useful pedagogies once we have class tested them ourselves for a while. I have a rule that I don’t pass on things until I have tried them first or they obviously fit into things I am doing already.
Integrate rather than replace
We should add new ideas into our collection of tried methods rather than replacing everything we have ever used successfully in the past. A good example of this was the recent research into paired programming. A mature teacher would add this into their pack of useful tools and use it for some projects, recognising that pupils also need opportunities to develop agency as individuals and work in a variety of other groupings. No teacher in any other subject, where there is a greater depth of research, would limit their groupings to just one method. I inspected a school where the only programming they ever did was paired, there was a distinct lack of personal agency and a sense in some pupils of being held back. I don’t say this to undermine paired programming, which is useful strategy but to suggest that we shouldn’t overuse any method.
Questions we should ask
We should take into account the age of pupils involved and the breadth of the study. Research with older pupils may not hold true for younger pupils. Research with a few select teachers or pupils may not hold true in a bigger study. Research that is based outside the class could have less value for teachers. We should always ask how does this really help my pupils? and how useful is this in my class? I want to read what will have real classroom application.
Partnership between teachers & researchers
Teachers and pupils are the beneficiaries of new techniques and understanding. We shouldn’t leave the choice of research project solely to academics. I would like to see all educational academic institutions have a teachers panel where research projects are examined by real teachers for classroom usefulness before being commissioned. Our knowledge and need should feed into the process.
Take part and help share
Let us make a real effort to take part in computing research. Doing our bit to persuade busy leadership teams that this is important. Giving our time to participate fully.
Following a successful research project, researchers need to look for teachers on the project to help them share the project wider. A serving teachers endorsement and testimony carries a lot of weight with fellow teachers.
Is there anything I have missed out? Let me now in the comments.
Have I totally misunderstood the nature of research? I am sure you will let me know.