Past, Present and Future of Computing Education Research

A Global Perspective

About the book

While computing has been practiced since ancient times, the record-breaking speed with which computations can be performed today has brought about whole new classes of concerns, challenges and opportunities. Our societies have become increasingly dependent on computational devices, and we have generations of people living in the middle of machine learning systems. Our reliance on technology has brought forth fundamental new questions around how the new power of fast computations can, can not, should, and should not be used. The rapid changes brought about by the megatrend of computerisation highlight the fundamental importance of computing education, and computing education research (CER).

History is a powerful means for understanding present-day issues by answering deeper questions as to why things are the way they are. By building a narrative of the past, it is possible to see relationships between societies and people, to build a sense of identity, a narrative of people and their networks, where communities have come from, potentially revealing where things are headed at. While the history of computing is an active area of research, the history of CER has been researched to a significantly lesser degree. This book will provide a unique contribution into this research gap by presenting a holistic, previously unseen and methodologically unique historical account about the evolution of the scientific discipline of CER.

This book, published by Springer, will present a unique combination of historical overviews, meta-research and reviews, case studies, and modern scientometrics studies to show the emergence and growth of the scientific discipline of CER. Meta-analyses and reviews will delve into the evolution of research methods and theory use in publications of CER, from the early times of publishing mainly experience reports to the present day when publication venues require rigorous use of methods and theory. The historical accounts of CER will be extended with a scientometric angle in order to explore the collaboration networks, shifts in research focus, international collaboration, citation practices, reference disciplines, and foundational work. Case-studies will zoom in on specific and prolific communities of practice in CER.

Call for contributed chapters

We welcome submissions in the area of computing education research (CER), with a focus on large-scale evaluations, country-level analyses, historical accounts, reviews and meta reviews within the broad scope of evolution of CER.

  • The chapter should be complementing the existing confirmed chapters with no significant overlap (see next section)
  • We are interested in “meta” research that follows the book philosophy of offering a holistic look at important aspects of the field.
  • Case studies of tools, courses, methods and techniques are not within the scope of this book.
  • Chapters covering global south, marginalized or under-represented groups are encouraged.

Abstract submission (Optional, 100-300 words) February 21st, 2022

Abstract feedback (Optional, 1 page) February 28th, 2022

Deadline for chapter submissions (15-20 pages) May 1st, 2022

Notification of decisions July 1st, 2022

Deadline for camera-ready chapters August 24th, 2022

The submission and review process will take place in:

Deadlines for confirmed chapters

Deadline for chapter submissions (15-20 pages) May 1st, 2022

Reviewer feedback July 1st, 2022

Deadline for camera-ready chapters August 24th, 2022

Templates can be found here.

Please use the template for contributed chapters. For LaTeX-users, select the author-template inside the contributed-books package.

List of chapters

This chapter describes the brief history and evolution of CER as a research discipline. This chapter also introduces this book and its approaches: a combination of case-studies, meta-analyses, reviews, and modern scientometrics to reveal a unique historical perspective to the evolution of CER as a research discipline. The book will answer questions about the evolution of research trends, use of research methods and theories to guide research, topical areas that have attracted research over the decades of CER, analysis of most cited and awarded work, prolific authors, author networks and communities, emergence of publication venues, citation practices, and CER in media and social media. As its data, the book uses publication metadata from all of the research published in the main outlets of publication dedicated to CER.

Mikko Apiola (University of Turku), Matti Tedre (University of Eastern Finland)

This chapter presents an overview of the CER from an epistemological perspective, and defines its scope in relation to other related areas to delimit CER as a research discipline. How has it emerged from computer science as an area of tertiary research and broadened its scope to encompass computing in schools? We discuss how the discipline of CER has been conceived and developed over time. The chapter contextualises the remaining chapters drawing on influential contributions to the international dialogue concerning the content and structure of the field. In particular the chapter looks at attempts to define the field, Marian Petre, Sally Fincher, and the developmental trajectory of the field, Simon, core literature attempts of Seidman and Pears, taxonomies and structured literature reviews. Finally, the chapter discusses how CER is related to Informatics education, Software Engineering education, ICT education, and the development of new areas of computing cybersecurity, data science, and related areas.

Mats Daniels (Uppsala University), Arnold Pears (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Lauri Malmi (Aalto University), Judithe Sheard (Monash University), Simon (Unaffiliated), Päivi Kinnunen (Helsinki University)

Computing education research studies employ a variety of methodological points of departure. This chapter synthesises and extends results from several published papers by Pears, Daniels, Berglund, Thota, Kinnunen, Malmi, Shear and Simon to provide a perspective on the role of research approach, methodology and study design to the development of systematic research in CER. The chapter provides an analysis of the understanding that can be gained from different epistemological standpoints in relation to CER with a focus on “discovery”, “integration”, and “application” of the results of CER research. The chapter positions the reader in relation to research methods, and the role of theory in CER.

Mats Daniels (Uppsala University), Arnold Pears (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Lauri Malmi (Aalto University), Judithe Sheard (Monash University), Simon (Unaffiliated), Päivi Kinnunen (Helsinki University)

Scientometrics has emerged as a research field for the evaluation and mapping of scientific fields, exploring research themes, collaboration clusters and identifying gaps and future trends. While early implementations have focused on quantitative metrics, recent directions emphasize a more nuanced approach that combines qualitative methods with quantitative analysis that triangulates several aspects, e.g., temporal trends, network and semantic analysis. This chapter reviews scientometrics as a research methodology and discusses the strengths and weaknesses and how such weaknesses can be amended. The chapter will also discuss the main methodological approach and its theoretical underpinnings used in some of the book chapters that make use of scientometrics as a means to map the field of CER.

Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland), Mikko Apiola (University of Turku)

Computing education research (CER) has gradually built its own identity as a research field. A part of this process has been the publication of a growing number of meta-studies which have explored the CER literature to identify the state of the art and trends in terms of active research topics, the nature of publications, use of different research methods, and the use and development of theoretical frameworks in papers published in different conferences and journals. In this chapter, we explore these meta-studies to build a picture of the way in which research in the field has developed. We identify trends over years, and discuss the implications of these findings for the future of the field.

Lauri Malmi (Aalto University), Simon (Unaffiliated), Judithe Sheard (Monash University), Päivi Kinnunen (Helsinki University), Jane Sinclair (University of Warwick)

Computing Education Research (CER), like any other discipline of science, is fundamentally driven by people and their networks of collaboration. Previous research has analysed authorship patterns and collaboration in distinct well known dissemination outlets of CER. In this chapter, we add to that approach by analysing a comprehensive set of metadata of CER publications. We analyse author productivity including newcomer patterns, clusters of co-authorship and international collaboration, and authors who build bridges between communities. Our results reveals top authors and their production before and after 2000, clusters of collaborators and their areas of topics as revealed by top keywords, a healthy evolution of newcomer-patterns, and a set of authors who build bridges between communities. In all, our macro-level analysis adds a significant contribution about the role of authors in the evolution of CER.

Mikko Apiola (University of Turku), Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland),

A fundamental part of science is dissemination. Previous research has analysed dissemination practices in few of the central publication outlets. In this chapter, we add into that research by analysing dissemination practices of CER in a range of 1469 journals and conferences that are (a) exclusively dedicated to CER, and (b) in outlets that publish CER together with other topics, such as general education, engineering or computer science. Our results show that a small and highly dedicated core of venues publishes a remarkable share of CER, that CER has a conference-oriented publication tendency, significant variations in citation rates, and differences in the diversity of topics within and between the dedicated and non-dedicated publication outlets. In all, our macro-level analysis makes a significant contribution into the research of dissemination in CER.

Mikko Apiola (University of Turku), Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland),

A combined body of reviews, meta-research and other analyses demonstrates the evolution of computing education research (CER) through the decades with experience reports evolving to empirical research, increased attention paid to educational research, methods and reporting rigor. Previous analyses of CER publications show the sustained focus of CER on programming education, which has, by far, been the all-time most popular topic in CER. In the recent decade, other top researched areas include K-12 computing education and computational thinking. In this chapter, we add new insights to the top research areas of CER. We followed the PRISMA-S (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) literature search extension to capture the relevant literature on CER. The process of data retrieval, screening, and pre-processing resulted in a total of 16863 articles included in the dataset. We analyze the full dataset for keyword trends over the years, and zoom in on the trends of the most recent years. We use a combination of keyword analysis and unsupervised classification of keyword metadata thought introducing a set of 30 topic models. The results paint a unique picture about the dominating and trending research areas of CER, and of how common research topics are connected with each other. The analysis also reveals under-researched areas of CER.

Mikko Apiola (University of Turku), Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland), Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)

Research impact goes beyond academia and exists in the multiplicity of digital platforms that we use to read, share, and discuss knowledge. Computing education research (CER) is no exception: it is created in academia and typical research institutions but is talked about widely on social media, blogs, and news websites. The aim of this study is to have a comprehensive look at how research in CER has been received, talked about in social media, discussed on blogs, and penetrated to the news and media. In addition to common analysis of trends of growth, we analyze trends of usage of social media and quantitative analysis of platforms, articles, and venues. The analysis will also include which articles in which subfields had a wide impact, and for whom (i.e, which platforms had more impact). The results help to understand which themes of research are likely to be interacted with by the general public. Such results will be discussed with an in-depth qualitative analysis that reflects on the value and importance of the findings.

Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland), Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), Mikko Apiola (University of Turku),

ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education’s (SIGCSE) Technical Symposium is considered by many to be ACM’s flagship conference for computing educators. SIGCSE Technical Symposium has been held annually since 1970 as an in-person conference, with the exception of 2020, when it was cancelled (with some papers presented in 2021). The conference attracts many computing educators, numbering in the thousands in recent times and is by far the top publication outlet in computer science education with regards to number of published articles. This paper explores the evolution of the first 51 years of SIGCSE from its inception in 1970 to the present day, using primarily scientometric data. We explore the evolution of the SIGCSE conference with regards to shifts in research themes, influential authors, author networks and clusters of keywords. We also explore the potential for internationalization of the conference. Participation in the SIGCSE symposium has strong US roots, and we examine the impact on participation as ACM SIGCSE membership expanded to Europe and Australasia, and new conferences such as ACE, ICER and Koli Calling established themselves.

Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), Mikko Apiola (University of Turku), Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland), Matti Tedre(University of Eastern Finland)

In this chapter, we investigate the way in which the ITiCSE Working Groups serve as a path into computing education research. Previous analysis has shown that Working Group participants are both highly collaborative and open to working with newcomers. Newcomers comprise over 50\% of group members each year and they are rapidly connected to the larger Working-Group community. As long as there have been Working-Group old-timers (since the second year the Working Groups were held), nearly all Working Groups have included both newcomers and old-timers. Here, we look more closely at the nature of these collaborations, considering the following questions: What is the pattern of collaborations between Working Group collaborators before and after the first Working Group in which they collaborate? and How do these patterns of collaboration compare with other paths into the community, such as the Doctoral Consortium and the 2002--2004 Bootstrap/Scaffolding Workshops?

Robert McCartney (University of Connecticut), Kate Sanders (Rhode Island College)

Computing Education Research (CER) is a branch of Discipline Based Education Research (DBER) and is a relatively young research area. The Uppsala Computing Education Research Group (UpCERG) can serve as an example of how this area has evolved from when the group was started in the mid-90's till today, when CER is an established research area at Uppsala University with an own research program and full professors. The case involves searching for and building a community, formulating frameworks for conducting CER, finding and including methods, theories and people from other disciplines, as well as developing relevant research questions for CER. The people in UpCERG represent a wide area of research interests and the case represents to a large extent the development of CER in general. The chapter will relate the UpCERG evolution to the CER field in general.

Mats Daniels (Uppsala University), Arnold Pears (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Anders Berglund (Uppsala University)

Computing Education Research (CER) has experienced substantial growth and its demand continues to expand. Efforts are being made by universities to have industry-relevant curricula and updated research and innovations. The University of Turku, a university in the Global North (GN) has formed a partnership with the University of Namibia, a university in the Global South (GS) to reform or contextualise computing education and CER among many initiatives to improve the relevance of CER through the establishment of the Future Technology Laboratory (FTLab). This chapter discusses the evolution of the FTLab, a plug-in campus initiative that was introduced as an alternative to a full-scale branch or satellite campus. The FTLab emphasises the expansion of Software Engineering education in Namibia among many other initiatives. The FTLab also encourages collaboration and contextual innovation among academia and external stakeholders. This chapter applied the Design Science Research and presents lessons learned and how the initial goal of the plug-in campus could be improved in ways that require the rethinking of CER in the context of the GS and would pioneer a novel CER approach locally and globally. This chapter makes use of the design reality gap framework to show the discrepancy between a satellite campus and the realities in the GS. This chapter shows that progress has been made in CER in Namibia but challenges in realising the goal of the FTLab persist. This chapter contributes to the literature on how to reform or contextualise CER to improve its relevance in developing countries.

Maria Ntinda (University of Turku), Mikko Apiola (University of Turku), Erkki Sutinen (University of Turku)

Three Baltic countries, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, have a long history of teaching computing at all levels, from preschool to doctoral studies. Although computing education in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was quite similar when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, subsequently the paths of school informatics in these three countries departed significantly. In Estonia, informatics as a separate school subject changed into digital literacy course, then became an elective course, just to disappear altogether from the curriculum of 2001, and now finally making its way back to schools and research in recent years. In Latvia, a pragmatic approach was introduced in 1990s by including school informatics the digital skills requested by employers and standardised by European Computer Driving License. In Lithuania, the development of school informatics has been more systematic, also Computing Education Research community has been the most active compared to other two countries. In this chapter, we present the development trajectories of Computing Education and related research in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, along with key milestones, achievements, similarities and differences.

Valentina Dagienė (Vilnius University), Mart Laanpere (University of Tallinn), Juris Borzovs (University of Latvia)

Scientometric analyses of publication data from all major computing education research (CER) outlets shows that many countries and whole continents are greatly underrepresented on the global map of contributions to CER. For example, only a minor portion of CER has originated from countries in the Global South or has addressed challenges of computing education in the Global South. In this chapter, we shift the focus to scientometrically analyse CER papers that originate from countries in the Global South. From the metadata of all CER publications in central publication outlets of CER, we have selected a subset of articles with authors affiliated to an institution in a Global South Country, as defined by the United Nations (UN). The analysis shows publication trends, prolific authors, and country collaboration patterns. A number of crucial and interesting avenues for future research and collaboration are presented.

Maria Ntinda (University of Turku), Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), Mikko Apiola (University of Turku), Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland)

Despite being a small country, Finland has had a strong international visibility in Computing Education Research. This is demonstrated by the presence of several important research groups, dozens of graduated PhDs in CER and the success of the Koli Calling International Conference of Computing Education Research, which has been running for 20 years now. In this chapter, we present the development of CER research in Finland and discuss the factors behind this phenomenon by analyzing the working practices and profiles of various research groups, as well as several national level networking activities which have supported the field.

Lauri Malmi (Aalto University), Arto Hellas (Aalto University), Petri Ihantola (University of Helsinki), Ville Isomöttönen (University of Jyväskylä), Ilkka Jormanainen (University of Eastern Finland), Terhi Kilamo (University of Tampere), Antti Knutas (Lappeenranta University of Technology), Ari Korhonen (Aalto University), Mikko-Jussi Laakso (University of Turku), Timo Poranen (University of Tampere), Tapio Salakoski (University of Turku), Jarkko Suhonen (University of Eastern Finland), Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)

The first Australasian computing education conference was held in 1996. Australasian authors had presented papers at SIGCSE, but a local conference gave them a far more affordable option, and it flourished. Australasia has also been well represented at both ITiCSE and ICER since their inceptions. Other Australasian innovations in CER include the conventicles, local meetings at which the computing educators in a city could meet and share papers that they had presented at conferences further afield. This chapter summarises the history and growth of computing education publication, and subsequently of computing education research, in Australia and New Zealand. At a more detailed level, it discusses work in New Zealand, work in Australia, and work that crosses the oceanic divide between the two. It also devotes a section to school-level computing education, an area that has seen a great deal of recent activity in both countries.

Simon (Unaffiliated), Judithe Sheard (Monash University), Andrew Luxton-Reilly (University of Auckland), Claudia Szabo (University of Adelaide)

Computer science education has been researched in Israel for a few decades, both at the K-12 and the undergraduate levels. The rich variety of the investigated topics addressed from the very beginning issues beyond the introductory course and programming, including the nature of the discipline and its fundamental ideas and concepts, which are stable, unlike the more technological aspects. Understanding the nature of the discipline and mapping its fundamental ideas and concepts constitute the basis on which curricula stand. Therefore, we chose to organize this chapter around ideas and concepts of CS. In line with this perspective, we will discuss research of all age levels: K-12, undergraduate, and even the graduate level, as well as research relating to teachers. We will present design-based research, which accompanied the design of new curricula, as well as studies aiming at identifying phenomena, or investigating educational hypotheses. We will also point out current challenges and possible future directions.

Michel Armoni (Weizmann Institute of Science), Judith Gal-Ezer (The Open University of Israel)

The December 1970 ACM SIGCSE Bulletin published a member listing recording three members in England, and one each in Scotland and Wales. By 1983 there was at least one member in Ireland, and by 1995 these infrequently published member listings recorded at least one member in Northern Ireland. Well before then authors in all of these countries had contributed to the growing volume of computing education literature. In 1998 the third ITiCSE conference was held in Ireland. Since then the countries in the geographically-defined British Isles have worked together in close cooperation in advancing computing education regionally and globally, hosting numerous ITiCSE and ICER conferences and spawning several influential research projects and groups. The last decade has seen the establishment of two new ACM SIGCSE Chapters (United Kingdom, and Ireland) and two new annual conferences: the conference in Computing Education Practice (CEP) now in its 7th year; and the UK & Ireland Computing Education Research conference (UKICER) now in its 4th year. In 2022 Ireland is once again hosting the 27th ITiCSE conference. This chapter describes more than a half-century of history and growth in computing education research within, and to come out of, these isles.

Joseph Maguire (University of Glasgow), Brett Becker (University College Dublin), Steven Bradley (University of Durham), Keith Quille (TU Dublin), Sue Sentance (Raspberry Pi Foundation), Quintin Cutts (University of Glasgow), Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland),

One of the most researched domains of computing education research (CER) is computing education in schools (K-12). A high number of initiatives and related research contributions have appeared over the years. This chapter presents an overview of CER research in the K-12 domain, including influential movements such as that of computational thinking (CT). A number of previous reviews on CT and K-12 paint a diverse picture of the approaches, educational technologies, pedagogical innovations, and related challenges such as lack of teacher training. This article presents a scientometric overview of CER research in the K-12 domain. The analysis identifies top categories of research, and foundational articles. Emergence of new trends such as teaching machine learning in schools are discussed.

Valentina Dagienė (Vilnius University), Yasemin Gulbahar (Ankara University), Natasa Grugurina (University of Groningen), Sonsoles López-Pernas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), Mohammed Saqr (University of Eastern Finland), Mikko Apiola (University of Turku), Gabrielė Stupurienė (Vilnius University)

As several critical issues in computing have become more visible (e.g., algorithmic bias, discriminatory practices, techno-solutionism), numerous approaches are being proposed to integrate criticality in K-12 computing education. Yet, how exactly these approaches address criticality and translate it into classroom practice is not clear. In this conceptual paper, we first historicize how current approaches in critical computing education draw on previous work which has promoted learner empowerment through critical analysis and production. We then identify three emergent framings: (1) inquiry, (2) design or (3) reimagination that build on and expand these critical traditions in todays’ K-12 computing education. Finally, we discuss how these framings highlight issues to be addressed and provide directions for future computing education research.

Luis Morales-Navarro (University of Pennsylvania), Yasmin B. Kafai (University of Pennsylvania)

Cutting edge competency in digitalisation and the development of future technological systems and solutions is vital to the sustainable development of a high-technology society. Digital excellence allows citizens to navigate future digital systems, empowering them with the agency and ability to consume and create digital content. Becky Frankiewicz and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, both of Manpower Group, emphasise this when they conclude that digital transformation is less about technology and more about people, and the importance of focus on soft rather than hard skills. Focus on equipping citizens for a technological world future is one thing, however, developing the national and global competence needed to fuel worldwide transformation has received limited attention. Despite a long-standing discussion of digital excellence the term has no existing agreed upon definition. We propose a definition of digital excellence based on analyses of relevant underlying components and assessing the profiles and roles of those working in positions requiring such competence. The definition has been and refined and validated through a series of workshops with representatives from government agencies and the private sector in Sweden. Educational implications in the context of compulsory school, university, and life-long learning are discussed.

Arnold Pears (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Åsa Cajander (Uppsala University), Mattias Wiggberg (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Jan Gulliksen (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

This chapter summarises the book findings and discusses ideas for the future. What insights have the analytics of communities and networks, keyword trends, historical narratives, meta-analyses of research methods and theory use, citation practices, evolution of central venues brought about? What are the strong and weak sides of scientometrics as a research method in CER? How can insights from scientometrics, meta-analyses, and case-studies complement each other? What are the under researched areas in CER? How is CER as a discipline positioned as compared to mathematics and science education? The chapter concludes with a discussion on what should future research agendas include, and how will this help to empower the field and learners?

Arnold Pears (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Mats Daniels (Uppsala University), Lauri Malmi (Aalto University), Mikko Apiola (University of Turku)