Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Thomas Hvid Spangsberg

Teaching programming to non-STEM novices: A didactical study of computational thinking and non-STEM computing education

1. title and short overview of your PhD thesis. Teaching programming to non-STEM novices: A didactical study of computational thinking and non-STEM computing education.

My PhD project is concerned with the challenge of teaching non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students programming skills in order for them to make critical interventions into the digital aspects of modern life. In parallel, and somehow intertwined, to this I explore the revived term computational thinking (CT)(Wing, 2006) which has gained enormous attention within educational politics here in Denmark and abroad (Web 1-4).

2. the nature of your ‘non-written work'. The nature of my non-written work will be the actual didactics I develop. I will of course document and describe them as closely as possible for other teachers to gain from them. But the actual teaching I do and the learning taking place, as a result hereof, is difficult to put in a thesis or a paper.

 3. in what way your ‘non-written work' relates to your PhD thesis. I produce a lot of teaching which makes students construct new knowledge in their minds. The teaching I do is a big part of my PhD project, but only the end-result, or evaluations of it, will be written in papers or the thesis. 

4. how you integrate or consider integrating your ‘non-written work' into your PhD thesis. I am currently following the track of making a portfolio of papers for my dissertation. The papers should represent the explorations I do in my teaching and explain the didactics. I have one paper in print at the moment. It describes a specific exercise I have deployed in class and possible reasons for its success. I have several other papers planned or in writing. The final dissertation will therefore consist of the published papers I have written and a summary explaining the overall methodology and the final results together with a larger theoretical section on teaching and computing education.

5. which scholarly traditions you base your methodology on. The explorations I make are highly based on the tradition of action research (ARe). ARe is part of the grounded theory research tradition and is an inductive and iterative approach top theory making.(Nolen & Putten, 2007; Reason & Bradbury, 2008; Tripp, 2005). The continuous iteration over a cycle of plan -> act -> describe -> evaluate allows for my teaching to grow in fidelity each time an exercise or other teaching activities are evaluated and feed into the next cycle.

 6. which difficulties you have encountered regarding your ‘non-written work’ . My main difficulty is finding a way to document the teaching that I do in such a manor, that it can be used by other teachers in the same situation as myself. How rich should the details be? How do I communicate the tacit knowledge I have developed? How do I even articulate the tacit knowledge I have developed – or rather: how do I find i

7. what you wish to gain from the workshop. I hope to gain some insights into how I can dig out my tacit knowledge of teaching programming to non-STEM students. I also hope to develop a sense for sorting in my experiences i.e.: What is relevant to pass on and what is not. Also, I hope to develop a vocabulary which makes it possible for me to articulate the immaterial nature of teaching and learning programming in a material context for other to gain from it.



Web 1: http://danmarksvaekstraad.dk/file/634221/Rapport_om_kvalificeret_arbejdskraft.pdf (24.05.2017)
Web 2: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/01/30/computer-science-all (24.05.2017)
Web 3: https://www.computingatschool.org.uk/ (24.05.2017)
Web 4: http://em.dk/~/media/files/2017/05-09-digipanel/276403-digitalt-vækstpanel-web.ashx?la=da (24.05.2017)
Nolen, A. L., & Putten, J. V. (2007). Action Research in Education: Addressing Gaps in Ethical Principles and Practices. Educational Researcher, 36(7), 401-407. doi:10.3102/0013189x07309629
Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (2008). The Sage handbook of action research: participative inquiry and practice.
Tripp, D. (2005). Action research: a methodological introduction. Educacao e pesquisa, 31(3).
Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational Thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3).