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Beyond jam sandwiches and cups of tea: An exploration of primary pupils' algorithm‐evaluation strategies

Benton, L; Kalas, I; Saunders, P; Hoyles, C; Noss, R; (2018) Beyond jam sandwiches and cups of tea: An exploration of primary pupils' algorithm‐evaluation strategies. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning , 34 (5) pp. 590-601. 10.1111/jcal.12266. Green open access

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Abstract

The long-standing debate into the potential benefit of developing mathematical thinking skills through learning to program has been reignited with the widespread introduction of programming in schools across many countries, including England where it is a statutory requirement for all pupils to be taught programming from five years old. Algorithm is introduced early in the English computing curriculum, yet, there is limited knowledge of how young pupils view this concept. This paper explores pupils’ (aged 10-11) understandings of algorithm following their engagement with one year of ScratchMaths (SM), a curriculum designed to develop computational and mathematical thinking skills through learning to program. 181 pupils from six schools undertook a set of written tasks to assess their interpretations and evaluations of different algorithms that solve the same problem, with a subset of these pupils subsequently interviewed to probe their understandings in greater depth. We discuss the different approaches identified, the evaluation criteria they used and the aspects of the concept that pupils found intuitive or challenging, such as simplification and abstraction. The paper ends with some reflections on the implications of the research, concluding with a set of recommendations for pedagogy in developing primary pupils’ algorithmic thinking.

Type: Article
Title: Beyond jam sandwiches and cups of tea: An exploration of primary pupils' algorithm‐evaluation strategies
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/jcal.12266
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12266
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: children's programming, computing education, mathematics, algorithm, Scratch
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045929
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