concepts · programming · research

Threshold concepts and non-cognitive dimensions of learning

At King’s College London we are involved in research to better understand the teaching and learning of programming in school.  In particular, our research project about threshold concepts in programming has entered its second phase and Maria is now looking for students and teachers to take part in the next phase of her research. If you are interested please complete this form.

Purpose of the study

The study aims to explore some of the non-cognitive factors that may be linked to students’ difficulties in computer programming (functions) and specifically to liminality. The liminal space, according to Meyer and Land (2003), is a situation of partial understanding where the students experience emotions of troublesome, uncertainty and anxiety in their attempt to make meaning of a new concept or experience. To address and learn more about how students experience this phase and most importantly how teachers can help them pass through this phase more easily, we need first to identify the relationship between the cognitive and non-cognitive factors and students’ passage through these insecure spaces. This particular study addresses the non-cognitive factors and focuses on students’ self-efficacy, the task value, the computer science identity and their motivation in computer programming.

Taking Part

If you teach Year 11 and Year 12 we would be really interested to hear from you.

We would like the following students to take part:

  • year 11 students studying GCSE computer science and/or
  • year 12 students studying AS/A level computer science

Taking part will include:

  • responding to a 7-point Likert scale questionnaire about the motivation and attitude towards computer programming
  • answering some computer programming tasks written in Python

This process will take 45-60 minutes and could be held in a lunchtime or after-school session or during a Computing lesson, at your discretion.  The questionnaire and the tasks will be completed and submitted in an online platform. The link will be provided to you in order to guide students appropriately. As students are taking part in a research study we will need to send you consent forms for the parents of students to sign.

Why might this be useful?

Once your students have taken part in the online questionnaire we will analyse the data for our research project. We can also provide you with some information about your class and how they are performing in Python and how this relates to their motivation and self-efficacy. This will be useful for tailoring your future teaching.

If you have read this post and are interested in taking part then complete the application form here.

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