Researching and developing pedagogies using unplugged and computational thinking approaches for teaching computing in the schools

Project Number
OER 04/16 LCK

Project Duration
July 2016 - July 2018

Status
In-Progress

Abstract
In 2017, Singapore’s Ministry of Education will be implementing a new GCE ‘O’ Level Computing curriculum. The new curriculum is a distinct shift from the teaching students on the use of software technology to the development of Computational Thinking skills and programming competencies. Computing thinking skills are associated with problem solving, reasoning and logic skills that all students should develop. At the National level, the government is encouraging Computing with the Prime Minister sharing his experiences in programming a Sudoko game. The Ministry of Education has introduced Computing to Primary and Lower Secondary students through the “Code for Fun” enrichment classes where students learn to program in Scratch. These efforts has been made to expose students to Computing as early possible and possibly serve as a pipeline for more students to take up Computing as a GCE O Level subject in the Upper Secondary. As Singapore moves to implement a new curriculum with a greater emphasis on the development of computational thinking and programming, the following are some of the challenges that must be addressed: 1. Decreasing number of teachers 2. Teachers’ Competency and Knowledge on Computational Thinking This project has a focus on building teachers’ capacity in teaching computing in Singapore, using the unplugged approach as introductory activities for teaching computing as a pedagogy. It focuses on helping students to understand the concepts in Computational Thinking. The approach also fits very well to the teaching and learning environment in a typical secondary school classroom. We plan to design workshops for teachers to introduce computational thinking skills and develop their capacity to teach these skills with their students. These workshops will pilot the use of unplugged approaches to teaching computational thinking for the teachers. After attending the workshops, we plan to work closely with the teachers to observe how they enact the lessons in the classroom and to co-design with them subsequent follow-up activities that may involved the plugged approaches. This would help us to understand how teachers interpret computational thinking and adapt the unplugged approaches with their teaching practice. Also, we would like to study students' learning outcomes as a result of the teaching. Through a series of iterations studying the linkages between the PD workshops, classroom enactment and student outcomes, we hope to refine the professional development model to develop teachers' pedagogical knowledge and capacity to teach computational thinking in the project. We will start with 2-3 school schools in the pilot phase and scale to more schools as we improve on the workshops.

Funding Source
NIE

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