Computing education research seminars

Join us at our free online research seminars

The Raspberry Pi Foundation hosts regular online seminars focusing on current computing education research topics. Featuring presentations from researchers from around the world, the seminars provide 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.

Sign up to our seminars mailing list and we’ll be in touch with details of how to take part

All researchers, academics, educators, and students with an interest in computing education research are welcome!

Catch up on our previous seminars! You can watch all our seminars after they have taken place on the previous seminars page.

Read our seminar proceedings! Presenters from our seminars have contributed articles to Understanding computing education, Volume 1 and Understanding computing education, Volume 2 — download and read these free publications now.

Dates and format

The seminars take place on the first Tuesday each month at 17:00–18:30 GMT / 12:00–13:30 ET / 9:00–10:30 PT / 18:00–19:30 CET

The focus of our seminars are on computing education research in school/with young people. We aim to present recent and relevant academic research through our line-up of speakers, who are all currently actively researching in the field. We hope you find their insights useful, and can take something away from each presentation for your own practice, study or research.

We’re also keen to encourage discussion where everyone’s views are welcome and listened to. We do this through breaking into small groups and sharing perspectives on the presentation. We hope that through these talks, we can build up a community of participants who will get to know others with similar interests — a bit like a very slow conference! Thus we really look forward to your participation and getting to know you.

 

New seminar series starting in January 2023!

Our next seminar series is on the theme of primary (K–5) computing education research – teaching and teachers. Through this series we are exploring computing for young people and their educators, while focussing specifically on primary (K-5) teaching contexts.

We will hear from eight speakers in the next series:

Date Topic Presenter/s
10 Jan 2023
Variables: Coordinating research with elementary classroom realities Dr Katie Rich (American Institutes for Research) and Carla Strickland (UChicago STEM Education)
7 Feb 2023
Moving from equity to justice in computing instruction for youth Dr Jean Salac (University of Washington)
7 Mar 2023
Integrating primary computing and literacy through multimodal storytelling Dr Bobby Whyte (Raspberry Pi Foundation)
9 May 2023
Teaching primary and secondary learners how to be data citizens (provisional title) Kate Farrell (University of Edinburgh)
6 Jun 2023
Young children’s ScratchJr project scores and processes across a 12-week coding curriculum Apittha Unahalekhaka (Tufts University)
12 Sep 2023
Giving appropriate feedback to primary school children Luisa Greifenstein (University of Passau)
10 Oct 2023
To be announced To be announced
7 Nov 2023
Computational thinking in primary schooling: Thinking beyond computer science Dr Aman Yadav (Michigan State University)

Variables: Coordinating research with elementary classroom realities (10 January 2023)

Dr Katie Rich (American Institutes for Research) and Carla Strickland (UChicago STEM Education)

We will discuss our process for developing instruction about the computer science topic of ‘variables’ for 4th grade students (ages 9–10). Drawn from theory about learning trajectories, the concept of ‘levels of thinking’ about variables serves as a flexible framework for synthesising existing computing education research while leaving room for adaptability of instruction to the elementary context — specifically, to 4th grade computer science instruction integrated with mathematics. We will discuss how we incorporated attention to classroom realities, such as teachers’ and students’ existing knowledge about variables (in mathematics or science), instructional time constraints, and nuanced differences in language, into our instructional materials. We will also share a set of lessons learned from the pilots of our instructional materials.

Speakers:

Dr Katie RichDr Katie Rich is a Senior Researcher at the American Institutes for Research in Chicago, IL. She works on a variety of projects related to K–5 mathematics and computer science education. She is experienced in curriculum development, teacher professional development, and research aimed at understanding how teachers implement instructional materials. She is passionate about supporting teachers and helping all students feel empowered as capable mathematicians, computer scientists, and problem solvers.

Carla StricklandCarla Strickland is the Digital Development Manager at UChicago STEM Education. As an expert in digitally enhanced STEM curricula, teaching, and learning, she works with elementary teachers and administrators to integrate computer science into their existing STEM instruction, with a particular focus on culturally responsive pedagogy and curricula. Carla brings an Afro-Caribbean perspective and a passion for equitable, high-quality instruction to her work in education.

Moving from equity to justice in computing instruction for youth (7 February 2023)

Dr Jean Salac (University of Washington)

With many countries worldwide integrating Computer Science (CS) and Computational Thinking (CT) instruction at the primary school level, it is crucial that we ensure that computing instruction is effective for all students. In this talk, Jean will present her work in identifying inequities in elementary computing instruction and in developing a learning strategy, TIPP&SEE, to address these inequities. Students using TIPP&SEE demonstrated improved understanding of computing concepts and better code quality in assignments. Further, the gaps between students with and without academic challenges narrowed when using the TIPP&SEE strategy.

Jean will also discuss the next steps for her work, transitioning from improving how young people learn computing to questioning what they learn about computing. While computing has provided society with immense benefits, it has also amplified bias with real-world consequences. Currently, she is exploring how young people may learn to examine technology’s role in their lives and society, and how educators can foster a critical understanding of computing in young people for a more just future.

Speaker:

Dr Jean SalacDr Jean Salac is a postdoctoral researcher and Computing Innovations Fellow at the University of Washington’s Code & Cognition Lab. Her research interests include computer science education and child–computer interaction, particularly in justice-focused computing for young learners. Her work has won Best Paper at the International Computing Education Research Conference (ICER) and an honourable mention for Best Paper at the conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). Prior to becoming a researcher, she worked in various STEM education spaces, such as museums, policy, and startups.

Integrating primary computing and literacy through multimodal storytelling (7 March 2023)

Dr Bobby Whyte (Raspberry Pi Foundation)

Most research focused on integrating computing education into existing classroom practices has centred on supporting learning in science, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Conversely, research in non-STEM areas is less explored. In this talk, we discuss the value of integrating computing in non-STEM areas in primary education. More specifically, we explore in detail the integration of computing and literacy education and consider the implications (and limitations) for classroom practice. Drawing on recent research, the talk also provides practical examples for educators on how to integrate computing and literacy to support students’ emergent programming and storytelling practices.

Speaker:

Dr Bobby WhyteDr Bobby Whyte is a computing education researcher with a background in primary education and educational research. He has extensive experience working as a primary school teacher in Ireland, the UK, and Italy. Alongside this, he completed his PhD in Learning Sciences at the University of Nottingham. His work to date has been published in the fields of computing education, the learning sciences, and education research. In 2022, Bobby joined the Raspberry Pi Foundation as a research scientist.

Teaching primary and secondary learners how to be data citizens (provisional title) (9 May 2023)

Kate Farrell (University of Edinburgh)

More information about Kate’s seminar will be announced soon!

Young children’s ScratchJr project scores and processes across a 12-week coding curriculum (6 June 2023)

Apittha Unahalekhaka (Tufts University)

This seminar will present two ScratchJr studies, which were part of the Coding as Another Language (CAL) project. The first study is the development and testing of the ScratchJr Project Rubric, which has been used to evaluate children’s purposeful creation on the coding and project design aspects of ScratchJr. The study showed that although children (ages 6–8) were able to create more complex projects over time, there were some coding concepts that children uncommonly used. The second study evaluated common processes that young children followed when creating their ScratchJr projects. The implications of this study are essential to inform how teachers and parents may support young children’s creative and exploratory processes when learning with tablet-based coding applications.

In small groups, seminar participants will use a rubric to evaluate their ScratchJr projects (or provided ScratchJr projects) and discuss the key areas that can be enhanced. (Bring a tablet with ScratchJr downloaded if you have one!) Furthermore, you will brainstorm the teaching strategies that can support different creation processes children may use to create coding projects.

Speaker:

Apittha (Aim) UnahalekhakaApittha (Aim) Unahalekhaka, Ed.M., is a final-year doctoral candidate at Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development and a graduate researcher at the DevTech Research Group. Her current research focuses on using data science for early childhood education and learning analytics applications in classroom settings, particularly how children’s engagement patterns with ScratchJr relate to their learning experiences. Her interests include socio-emotional learning, constructionism, adaptive instructional systems, and machine learning. She received her B.S. at the University of Toronto with a double major in Neuroscience and Economics and her Ed.M. at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Giving appropriate feedback to primary school children (12 September 2023)

Luisa Greifenstein (University of Passau)

Programming in primary schools presents a lot of opportunities, such as the chance to promote positive attitudes towards computer science at an early stage. At the same time, educators need to give corrective feedback that can enhance learning, but might also reduce positive emotions. In this seminar, we will therefore focus on strategies for giving appropriate feedback. We present some findings of our survey conducted with experienced teachers and the results of our own workshops where we evaluated different feedback options and the children’s opinions on them. By this, we want to describe not only the content of the feedback but also discuss encouraging ways of giving it. Another strategy to support the process of giving feedback is using automated analysis tools. We therefore show the Litterbox tool that detects bug patterns, smells, and so-called perfumes in Scratch and mBlock code.

Speaker:

Luisa GreifensteinLuisa Greifenstein did her degree in primary school education and in media computer science. She now connects her two interests in the project “primary::programming” at the University of Passau, Germany, where she is currently doing her PhD. Luisa is keen on finding encouraging ways of giving corrective feedback and thereby engaging children in programming. She has given multiple workshops and courses for primary school children on creative physical computing and first software programming. In all this, she seeks to include the educational inspiration received from her Montessori diploma course.

Computational thinking in primary schooling: Thinking beyond computer science (7 November 2023)

Dr Aman Yadav (Michigan State University)

Computational thinking has been argued as a way to bring computer science learning
experiences to formal schooling. However, there are still questions about its value and whether computational thinking is any different from other forms of thinking (such as mathematical thinking) that were argued as being important for all learners. In this talk, Aman will discuss what makes computational thinking unique for primary schooling and how we should go beyond pushing computer science goals when integrating computational thinking. He will discuss findings from the CT4EDU project that showcase what primary teachers consider to be the value of computational thinking. Aman will also discuss the need to broaden the goals of computing education to create a more just and equitable world.

Speaker:

Dr Aman YadavDr Aman Yadav is a Lappan-Phillips Professor of Computing Education in the College of
Education and College of Natural Science at Michigan State University with extensive
experience in research, evaluation, and teacher professional development. His areas of expertise include computer science education, problem-based learning, and online learning. His research and teaching focus on improving student experiences and outcomes in computer science and engineering at the K–16 level. He recently co-edited the book, Computational Thinking in Education: A Pedagogical Perspective, which tackles how to integrate computational thinking, coding, and subject matter in relevant and meaningful ways. His work has been published in several leading journals, including ACM Transactions on Computing Education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Journal of Engineering Education, and Communications of the ACM.