Part 3: Classroom investigation

Reflecting on the effectiveness of different approaches to teaching their subject is a key part of any teacher’s professional development. This is particularly relevant in Computing as the computer science elements are new to the curriculum. We have a limited, but now growing, understanding of good pedagogical approaches for teaching the Computer Science element of Computing in schools. This is known as ‘Pedagogical Content Knowledge`.

Ideas and strategies for teaching Computing will be covered in some of the CPD you attend and describe in Part 1. For Part 3 you will need to show that you have investigated some particular aspect of the pedagogy. You should decide on a particular approach you want to use, decide how you want to introduce it with your class(es) and then evaluate how successful this was. This is not a full-blown research project, but an introduction into the spirit of introducing classroom investigations into your teaching of Computing. You will need to observe how a particular approach is successful or not with your students and write up your reflections on this. You will not need to collect and analyse a lot of data; if you wish to collect some data to evaluate your investigation, you should ensure you follow your school’s ethical procedures in asking for appropriate permissions and ensure that everything you submit for the Certificate is completely anonymised.

When selecting the topic for your investigation, consider something that you may be teaching for the first time, or something that you would like to teach using a new approach. Alternatively, consider a topic that your learners have had difficulty picking up in the past, and investigate how a new approach to working with this topic may help them.

Here are some suggestions:

  • How can students progress from learning visual programming to textual programming?
  • Do unplugged approaches for teaching X help to secure understanding?
  • Does pair programming help students to get better at debugging their programs?
  • Does programming with devices (eg Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Gadgeteer) increase motivation to learn?
  • What strategies for teaching Scratch work best to develop understanding of selection/variables/loops etc?
  • What strategies for teaching Scratch work best with a wide range of abilities?
  • Do activities involving tracing and labelling code enhance debugging skills for some of my students?
  • Is X a good strategy for developing troubleshooting skills in my students?
  • What benefits are there to copying code and getting it to work in terms of learning to program?
  • How do different questioning techniques enrich understanding of X?
  • Is X a good way of assessing programming skills?
  • What are the main misconceptions that students have when struggling to understand binary numbers (or X)?
  • Does flowcharting help with algorithmic thinking?
  • How does activity X support problem-solving skills?
  • How can Computer Science concepts be delivered across the curriculum/in History/Geography/Science etc.?
  • Does X strategy help to support literacy development in Computing lessons?
  • Does X strategy help to support numeracy development in Computing lessons?
  • How did my SOW on the history of computers engage and motivate students?
  • How can I support the development of social/cultural and ethical awareness in Computing lessons?

Do not be limited by these suggestions - there will be many more interesting areas to investigate. When you enrol on the Certificate there will be more information about carrying out your investigation and links to a range of useful resources. There are also some examples of investigations carried out by our pilot teachers. If you are considering enrolling for the Certificate, try to think in advance what you might choose for your investigation.