In July 2016, the NCCA was asked by the then Minister for Education and Skills, Mr Richard Bruton, TD., to consider approaches to integrating coding and computational thinking into the primary curriculum. Responding to this request, the NCCA carried out research including an audit of curriculum policy related to coding in 22 jurisdictions; a more in-depth investigation in six jurisdictions; and a review of literature on computational thinking. Concluding in a final report with key discussion points and future directions in relation to integrating coding and computational thinking in a redeveloped primary school curriculum.
International Curriculum Audit
In July 2016, the NCCA initiated a desktop audit of curriculum policy related to coding in 22 jurisdictions.
A broad range of jurisdictions were included in the audit—neighbouring UK, Scandinavian and other European systems due to their cultural similarities. The United States owing to their strong emphasis on research-driven approaches, and finally Pacific and Asian countries which have emerged as leading trends in technology and ICT within curriculum policy.
International Curriculum Investigation
The NCCA selected six jurisdictions for a more in-depth examination: England, Finland, New Zealand, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the USA (CSTA – Standards Computer Science Teachers Association Grades K-5).
The purpose of the curriculum investigation was to inform the NCCA’s development of a set of support materials for schools to work with as they piloted different approaches to integrating coding into the Irish primary curriculum.
Recent research has shown that computational thinking lays some of the foundations for coding through its emphasis on problem-solving and creative, flexible thinking skills.
To understand fully the essence of computational thinking the NCCA commissioned a review of literature with the aim of defining computational thinking, exploring its relevance for children’s learning in the primary school years, and identifying how it might be developed across the curriculum.
The report on the Coding in Primary Schools Initiative describes the work with schools and sets out the key findings which are linked to the international curriculum investigation and the research paper on computational thinking. The report concludes with key discussion points and future directions in relation to integrating coding and computational thinking in a redeveloped primary school curriculum.
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