Computing education research: online seminars

Join us this summer for our free online seminar series

Following the first Cambridge Computing Education Research Symposium on 1 April 2020, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is hosting a series of fortnightly online seminars focusing on current computing education research topics. 

Featuring presentations from researchers based in the UK, USA, and Spain, the seminars will provide you with the opportunity to hear about some of the latest work in the field of computing education research, make connections with fellow researchers, and take part in discussions. 

All researchers, academics, teachers and students with an interest in computing education research are invited!

Sign up to attend and we’ll be in touch with you about how to take part

Time and date

The seminars will take place every two weeks on Tuesdays from 5 May to 28 July 2020, at 17:00–18:00 BST / 12:00–13:00 EDT / 9:00–10:00 PDT / 18:00–19:00 CEST

Each seminar will consist of a 30-minute presentation from a researcher in the field, followed by discussion and Q&A on the topic.


Date Topic Presenter
5th May  Online and hybrid instruction for computer science classrooms Lauren Margulieux, Georgia State University
19th May  Learning AI at school with Scratch and LearningML Juan David Rodríguez, Instituto Nacional de Tecnologías Educativas y de Formación del Profesorado (INTEF)
2nd June  Programming and mathematics: insights from research in England Dame Celia Hoyles, University College London
16th June  Unplugged computing and Semantic Waves Jane Waite, Queen Mary University of London
30th June  Subgoal labels: reducing cognitive load in intro CS Briana Morrison, University of Nebraska-Omaha
14th July  Computational thinking test for beginners María Zapata, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos 
28th July  Gender balance in computing: what the research says Katharine Childs, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Online and hybrid instruction for computer science classrooms (5 May 2020)

Lauren Margulieux Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Learning Sciences, Georgia State University

Online instruction comes in many forms to serve many purposes. It can be a powerful tool to add to your teaching practice, especially when mindfully paired with face-to-face instruction for a hybrid classroom. This talk will describe multiple goals that can be achieved through online instruction, how to mix it with face-to-face classrooms, and tips for making it successful.

Speaker bio:

Lauren Margulieux is an Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences at Georgia State University. She received her PhD from Georgia Tech in Engineering Psychology, the study of how humans interact with technology. Her research interests are in educational technology and online learning, particularly for computing education. She focuses on designing instructions in a way that supports online students who do not necessarily have immediate access to a teacher or instructor to ask questions or overcome problem-solving impasses.

Online and hybrid instruction for computer science classrooms Dr Lauren Margulieux

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Learning AI at school with Scratch and LearningML (19 May 2020)

Juan David Rodríguez, Instituto Nacional de Tecnologías Educativas y de Formación del Profesorado (INTEF)

In this talk, Juan will describe LearningML, a tool he is developing together with the Kindergarten and Beyond and Lifelong Learning (KGB-L3) research group at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid. LearningML is intended to learn and teach the basis of machine learning, the most prevalent technique used nowadays in artificial intelligence applications. During the seminar, Juan will perform a practical demo and show how practical AI projects can help to foster computational thinking skills, adding new concepts, practices, and perspectives.

Speaker bio:

Juan is a secondary education teacher and software developer. He works at Spain’s National Institute of Educational Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEF), a unit of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training which has responsibility for the integration of ICT and teacher training in non-university educational stages. Juan is currently working on computational thinking skills development through practical artificial intelligence activities. He has started exploring how machine learning (ML), one of the most used techniques in current AI applications, can be taught at school. To do this, he is developing the educational tool LearningML which is designed to easily build ML models that can be used in Scratch programs.

LearningML (now available in English and Spanish!):

Learning AI at school with Scratch and LearningML Juan David Rodríguez

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Programming and mathematics: insights from research in England (2 June 2020)

Professor Dame Celia Hoyles, Professor of Mathematics Education, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

In England, computing including a component of programming is compulsory for all students from age 6 to 16 years old. In this talk, Celia will describe the UCL ScratchMaths research project that developed a 2-year curriculum for 9-11 year olds in England aligned to the mandatory national computing and national mathematics primary curricula. ScratchMaths set out to support the teaching of carefully selected core ideas of computer programming alongside specific fundamental mathematical concepts, thus seeking to exploit potential for learning in both subjects by forging links between them. Celia will present the design features of this project, the findings from its external evaluation and internal monitoring, and the ongoing next steps.

Speaker bio:

Celia was awarded a first-class honours degree in mathematics from the University of Manchester and holds a masters and doctorate in mathematics education. She taught mathematics in London schools before moving into higher education. She became a professor at the Institute of Education, University of London in 1984.

Celia has received many awards: first recipient of the International Commission of Mathematics Instruction (ICMI) Hans Freudenthal medal in 2004, and of the Royal Society Kavli Education Medal in 2011. She has received Hon Doctorates from the Open University, Loughborough University, Sheffield Hallam University and University of Bath. In 2016, she received the Suffrage Science award for Communications in acknowledgement of her scientific achievements and ability to inspire others especially women into mathematics.

Celia has given policy advice in mathematics as Chair of the Joint Mathematical Council of the United Kingdom 1999-03, founder member of the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) 2002-4, and the UK Government’s Chief Adviser for mathematics 2004- 07. She served as the Director of the National Centre for Excellence in the
Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM), 2007-13. Celia was President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) (2014-15). Celia was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2004 and a Dame Commander in 2014.

Unplugged computing and Semantic Waves (16 June 2020)

Jane Waite, Queen Mary University of London

This talk will explore how Legitimation Code Theory, and, in particular, semantic waves, provides a useful way to understand what makes unplugged computing activities effective (or not) in the classroom. Jane will overview the theory, discuss how it applies to unplugged activities, and describe a case study where it is applied to a specific, widely used, unplugged activity. In particular, Jane will show that the published lesson plan follows a Semantic Wave, and will suggest that Semantic Waves are useful both in developing and reviewing lesson plans around unplugged (and other) computing activities. They also have great potential in teacher training and continuous professional development of computing teachers.

Speaker bio:

Jane Waite works and studies at Queen Mary University of London. She is undertaking a part time PhD studying the teaching of design in K-5 (primary) programming activities. Jane also organises and runs teacher professional development and undergraduate modules on computer science education. Working with Sue Sentance she has researched PRIMM, the micro:bit, and pedagogy in general. With Paul Curzon she is investigating the use of Semantic Waves in the teaching of computer science. Jane is the Computing At School Research and University Working Group Chair running #CsEdResearchBookClub every first Thursday of the month.

Subgoal labels: reducing cognitive load in intro CS (30 June 2020)

Dr. Briana Morrison, Assistant Professor, Information Science and Technology, University of Nebraska-Omaha

Cognitive load is the amount of resources utilized in an individual’s working memory during learning. This talk will present the use one cognitive load reducing mechanism: implementing subgoal labels within worked examples. The results of a quasi-experimental study using a subgoal learning framework throughout a semester-long programming course will be discussed. Results include improved performance on formative quizzes, lower variance in exam scores and fewer students dropped or failed the course when learning with subgoals. Information on our next implementation steps, including how you can use subgoal labels in your classroom will be covered.

Speaker bio:

Briana Morrison is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska- Omaha. Briana worked at IBM for eight years as a software developer before she transitioned to academia. She was an Asst. Professor at Southern Polytechnic State University (now Kennesaw State University) for 20 years in the CS department, was the Undergraduate Coordinator for the CS and SWE programs and helped found the Computer Game Design and Development degree program. Dr. Morrison earned her BS in Computer Engineering from Tulane, her MS from Southern Polytechnic and her PhD from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Briana currently has two NSF grants: IUSE: Collaborative Research: Developing and Assessing Subgoal Labels for Imperative Programming to Improve Student Learning Outcomes; and CNS: RET Site: Wearable Research for In-Service STEM Teachers (WRIST).

Computational thinking test for beginners (14 July 2020)

María Zapata, Researcher and Visiting Professor, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid

Assessing computational thinking is an indispensable part to consider in order to introduce it into school curricula. This talk will describe how a Beginners’ Computational Thinking Test (BCTt), aimed at early ages, was designed, submitted to a content validation process through expert judgement procedure and then administered to Primary School students. The results obtained from the BCTt will be discussed.

Speaker bio:

María Zapata Cáceres qualified as an Architect at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and graduated in Computer Science Engineering at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia in Spain. She also holds masters degrees in Virtual Environments (CSA) and Videogames Design and Production (UEM). She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Information Technology and Communications at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, where she is a researcher and visiting professor in the Games Design and Development bachelor’s degree. Her main area of research includes videogames as learning instruments for computer science both in individual and collaborative environments. She has more than 15 years of professional experience as an entrepreneur and independent professional with activities related to 3D design, videogames, technology, and teaching.

Gender balance in computing: what the research says (28 July 2020)

Katharine Childs, Programme Coordinator, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Gender Balance in Computing is a 4-year programme of research to explore ways to increase girls’ participation in computing. The programme will investigate approaches to overcoming barriers to gender balance in computing through a number of different interventions carried out in primary and secondary (K-12) schools in England. This seminar will present a summary and synthesis of the current knowledge about five key barriers and share a brief overview of how these will be addressing in the pilots and trials within the programme.

Speaker bio:

Katharine Childs works in the Research team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and coordinates the Gender Balance in Computing project. Her background spans both computer science and learning theory, via her first-class honours degree in IT & Computing and Masters degree in computing education. Following 15 years of professional experience working in the IT sector, she went on to teach computing in primary (K-5) schools and deliver professional development activities for other primary teachers. Katharine writes, blogs and speaks about Computer Science Education research, with a particular focus on gender equity, inclusivity and physical computing.