You are here:

Beyond jam sandwiches and cups of tea: An exploration of primary pupils' algorithm-evaluation strategies ARTICLE

, , , ,

Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Volume 34, Number 5, ISSN 1365-2729 Publisher: Wiley

Abstract

The long-standing debate into the potential benefit of developing mathematical thinking skills through learning to program has been reignited with the widespread introduction of programming in schools across many countries, including England where it is a statutory requirement for all pupils to be taught programming from 5 years old. Algorithm is introduced early in the English computing curriculum, yet there is limited knowledge of how young pupils view this concept. This paper explores pupils' (aged 10–11) understandings of algorithm following their engagement with 1 year of ScratchMaths, a curriculum designed to develop computational and mathematical thinking skills through learning to program. A total of 181 pupils from 6 schools undertook a set of written tasks to assess their interpretations and evaluations of different algorithms that solve the same problem, with a subset of these pupils subsequently interviewed to probe their understandings in greater depth. We discuss the different approaches identified, the evaluation criteria they used, and the aspects of the concept that pupils found intuitive or challenging, such as simplification and abstraction. The paper ends with some reflections on the implications of the research, concluding with a set of recommendations for pedagogy in developing primary pupils' algorithmic thinking.

Citation

Benton, L., Kalas, I., Saunders, P., Hoyles, C. & Noss, R. (2018). Beyond jam sandwiches and cups of tea: An exploration of primary pupils' algorithm-evaluation strategies. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 34(5), 590-601. Wiley. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from .