Computer science in K-12 school curricula of the 2lst century: Why, what and when?

Mary Webb, Niki Davis, Tim Bell, Y. Katz, Nicholas Reynolds, Dianne P. Chambers, Maciej M. Sysło

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    139 Scopus citations


    In this paper we have examined the position and roles of Computer Science in curricula in the light of recent calls for curriculum change and we have proposed principles and issues to consider in curriculum design as well as identifying priority areas for further research. The paper is based on discussions within and beyond the International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP) Education Community since 2012 as well as an analysis of curriculum developments in five different countries. Emerging themes have been discussed with reference to important perspectives from curriculum theory including “powerful knowledge” as a key element of entitlement and management of the growth of expertise. Based on this analysis we have identified areas of consensus as well as constraints, risks and issues that are still subject to controversy. There is an emerging consensus of the importance of Computer Science and the nature of its “powerful knowledge”. Furthermore current understanding of the opportunities and benefits for starting to learn Computer Science early in primary schools has identified this early start as an entitlement and equity issue. There is a strong consensus that teacher professional development in Computer Science Education is critical for supporting curriculum change and is currently a major challenge in many countries. Other key issues include understanding how the growth of expertise affects potential structure and sequencing in the curriculum and the balance of content. Further considerations include how new technological opportunities interact with pedagogical approaches and can provide new potential for the growth of expertise.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)445-468
    Number of pages24
    JournalEducation and Information Technologies
    Issue number2
    Early online date28 Apr 2016
    StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2016, The Author(s).


    • Computer science
    • Curriculum design
    • Entitlement
    • Informatics
    • Powerful knowledge
    • Primary education
    • Secondary education


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