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Factors Influencing Computer Science Learning in Middle School

Abstract

"In this paper, we describe research conducted around a 7-week curriculum designed to introduce middle school students to computer science with a focus on algorithmic thinking and programming. The pedagogical ideas employed in this curriculum were drawn from past research. Empirical investigations over two studies in a public middle school in the US examined changes in students' understanding of algorithmic constructs and the factors affecting that learning. Multi-level analyses revealed that students in both studies (1) achieved substantial learning gains in algorithmic thinking skills and significant growth towards a more mature understanding of computing as a discipline, and (2) found certain CT ideas and constructs more difficult than others. Prior computing experiences and math and English ability were found to be predictors of learning outcomes. Extracurricular experiences with technology also appeared to impact outcomes."

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