Carter, E., Blank, G., & Walz, J. (2012). Bringing the breadth of computer science to middle schools. In Proceedings of the 43rd ACM technical symposium on Computer Science Education (pp. 203-208). New York: ACM.


Type: Empirical

Purpose: "This paper documents curricular items developed for and taught to an audience of mixed ability 6th through 8th graders taking a local Technology Education class that attempts to showcase some of the more interesting, less stereotypical, aspects of computer science using a breadth approach in an effort to encourage interest in the field" (p. 203).

Findings: "Student material retention and interest in presented subject areas were qualitatively evaluated over the course of the school year in which these lessons were taught" (p. 207). "Although students exhibited some difficulty remembering the vocabulary associated with the materials taught, they displayed an unexpectedly high level of retention with the actual concepts... there was an unexpected amount of information loss among the students for certain multi-lesson topics... The most severe drops in retention were observed in the Cryptography and first AI lessons, which contained the most difficult material and incurred the most discontinuity. Student interest and enthusiasm for the material varied by grade level... with 6th grade students exhibiting the highest and most enduring enthusiasm. The 7th grade group approached the material more maturely and though they exhibited a general interest in the subject and participated in class discussions, they were less overtly excited about the material (as would be expected from their age group). The 8th grade students were the hardest group to interest of the three" (p. 208).

Recommendations: “However, over the course of this experience we reached the conclusion that 6th grade appears to be too late to gain a student’s lasting interest in the subject without additional outside encouragement… Therefore, the lead author of the paper proposes to pursue a similar initiative with younger students...” (p. 208).


Participant Type: 6-8 graders at Harrison Morton Middle School in Allentown Pennsylvania