Research projects

Broadening participation in computer science

We aim to understand — and work to remove — the barriers to computing education. This includes the factors obstructing young people’s engagement and progression in computing as a subject and a career. In our recent projects in this area, we have explored different approaches to addressing the gender imbalance and encouraging more girls to engage with computing in schools, created guidelines for educators to support them with culturally relevant pedagogy and culturally responsive teaching, and investigated how to create culturally adapted computing resources for primary classroom use.

A boy and girl working together on a programming project

AI education for young people

We are investigating how best to teach and learn the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data science. We have analysed more than 500 learning resources about AI and ML. To do this, we developed and used a framework called SEAME. The framework can be used to categorise or design resources using four levels: Social & Ethical, Application, Model, Engine. 

In 2021/2022, we hosted an online seminar series on AI and ML teaching and learning in K–12, in partnership with The Alan Turing Institute, in which leading international researchers presented their research in this area. The seminar series is accompanied by a seminar proceedings.

Two primary-aged children working together at a computer

Programming education

Programming is a fundamental component of computing education; yet teaching and learning programming can be a challenge for educators and students alike. We aim to investigate and understand how to overcome this challenge. 

Following on from previous research on Predict–Run–Investigate–Modify–Make (PRIMM), we have investigated the role of language in the programming classroom and published a paper about teachers’ perspectives on classroom talk. Our 2024 seminar series also focuses on how to teach and learn programming, with and without the help of AI and ML technology.

Two girls working together on a programming task

Pedagogy, including teacher professional learning

We research computing pedagogy — or how to teach computing — in formal and non-formal settings, including teacher professional development for this area. As we work extensively to support young people in clubs and extracurricular activities, being able to understand the state of current research was important as a baseline to support any future research projects in this area. Therefore we reviewed the research literature relating to non-formal learning and presented our results at the 2022 ICER conference.

An older student helps two younger students with their computing project

Computer science education around the world

We engage in research to better understand the teaching and learning of computing in countries around the world, and we provide the opportunity for educators and other researchers to learn from the experiences of others. 

In March 2022, we conducted a large survey of computing teachers across England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. We are still in the early stages of analysing the impact that different educational systems, curricula, and policy priorities have on the experiences of teachers. Read about our first insights in this blog article.

Children working together at computer

Physical computing

A popular pedagogical approach to teaching computing is to use physical devices, so we want to investigate teaching and learning through physical computing. We are embarking on a new series of research projects in this area soon, so watch this space.

Young adult with a physical computing project.