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Computing Science: What do pupils think? Alison Mitchell University of Strathclyde With students David Barr Stewart Melvin & thanks.

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Presentation on theme: "Computing Science: What do pupils think? Alison Mitchell University of Strathclyde With students David Barr Stewart Melvin & thanks."— Presentation transcript:

1 Computing Science: What do pupils think? Alison Mitchell University of Strathclyde a.mitchell@strath.ac.uk With students David Barr Stewart Melvin & thanks to Chris Mitchell & Helen Purchase thanks to Chris Mitchell & Helen Purchase University of Glasgow A project sponsored by LTSN-ICS August to October 2004

2 Alison Mitchell Computing Science: What do pupils think? What do you think they think about it? Write down 3 things.

3 Alison Mitchell To begin: The numbers in HE are decreasing But: Teachers and pupils were surprised because Computing numbers in school are buoyant. 64% think numbers are the same or higher

4 Alison Mitchell Numbers taking Highers in schools & HE admissions Scottish schoolsUK-HE Comp StudInfo Sys(UCAS) 2000 24011207 2001 46042512 2002 44802896- 9% 2003 47532852- 15% 2004 - 19% (52,777 )

5 Alison Mitchell UCAS UK admissions 2004 Computing -19.0%(52,777) EEE- 7.7%(26,349) Mathematics+16.3%(25,543) Chemistry+7.1%(16,768) Mech Eng+12.5%(24,038) Civil Eng+25.2%(16,408) Physics- 9.9%(15,277) Zoology+ 7.4%( 5,899) Software Eng-23.0%( 5,732) Statistics+ 8.8%( 1,084) AI-15.9%( 545)

6 Alison Mitchell The sample Natural diverse mixture of pupils Not just computing students Surveyed S1 to S6 pupils –Interviews, focus groups, PRS questionnaires –Also interviewed teachers Big (about 2000 pupils) Specific requests for senior group: –Higher Maths –Intending to go to HE –Focus groups Gender balance Computing and non computing pupils

7 Alison Mitchell Why have numbers in HE decreased? Most popular reasons from senior focus groups ICT in schools, so no need to take computing further Boring Dont know what it involves Too difficult/ hard Other options more enjoyable Nature of jobs (but not job shortage) Teacher/ classes/equipment (very few)

8 Alison Mitchell Fewer are taking CS why do you think this is? People would rather use them than invent them

9 Alison Mitchell Comments about Jobs People prefer accountancy or medicine, better paid People dont like pay conditions People think its too hard to get into Very common degree so few jobs available IT skills are more common, so not much in demand Too many people want to do it Too many people not enough jobs Dot com bubble And more positively, but just 1 pupil…. Useful in all career areas

10 Alison Mitchell Is there an image problem? Lost its glamorous image Not special any more Dont know exactly what it is Programming too difficult People dont like sitting in front of a computer

11 Alison Mitchell Comparison of CS with Maths. Edinburgh group Maths is more difficult Equally enjoyable More knowledgeable about Maths as a subject to study CS job prospects are better More aware of graduate jobs in Maths

12 Alison Mitchell Computing Science: what do pupils think? Does the experience of ICT in schools put pupils off? 55% say yes it has put me off And also 68% would only take CS if they wanted a career in computing 54% think its more of a skill than a career

13 Alison Mitchell The ICT effect Use of IT now intuitive, no need for CS knowledge Its a modern everyday technology, no need for study People not interested in learning how computers work Already know the basics Not useful if you dont want a career in CS More people try to teach themselves to use the computer Not essential to know about the insides of a computer Seen as too common a subject People would rather use things than invent them Computing scientists are running out of ideas Popularity of internet

14 Alison Mitchell Computing Science: what do pupils think? What do pupils know about Computing Science ? 60% senior pupils have heard of it but dont know what it is 40% junior pupils have never heard of it & most of the rest dont know what it is

15 Alison Mitchell What do you think Computing Science might be about? Senior group

16 Alison Mitchell What do you think Computing Science might be about? Junior group

17 Alison Mitchell What is Computing Science most like? Senior group

18 Alison Mitchell What is Computing Science most like? Junior group

19 Alison Mitchell Which best describes your idea of Computing Science? Senior group

20 Alison Mitchell Which best describes your idea of Computing Science? Junior group

21 Alison Mitchell Positive aspects of CS: Edinburgh group Jobs –Good job prospects –Good pay –Valuable skills for job Society –Keep up with changes in society –Useful in all areas Personal (ICT skills) –Email, internet, –Time saving –Looks better –Useful to be good at computers Subject –Interesting –Problem based –How to use computer

22 Alison Mitchell Negative aspects of CS: Edinburgh group Personal experience –Boring –Frustrating –Confusing –Hardware faults –Internet failure Subject –Difficult/ hard/ hard to keep up with Social –Nerdy/ negative image –Antisocial School –Out of date text books –Poor equipment –fluffy at standard grade

23 Alison Mitchell Skills of Computing Science: Edinburgh & Focus groups Patience/ perseverance Creative Good memory Problem solving skills Programming skills Maths & Physics knowledge Work hard Like computers Typing 53% of seniors think its a difficult subject 48% would not want to study it at HE

24 Alison Mitchell What is your Careers library like for CS information? 65% of seniors think there is plenty information around But of the focus groups 32% had never looked in Library Another 60% had never looked at CS The remainder said Careers libraries up to date Useful for careers in CS Less useful for CS courses

25 Alison Mitchell Who or what influences choices? Edinburgh & focus groups Top 10 1. Parents 2. Teachers 3. Guidance teachers 4. School option choice booklets 5. Friends (especially older ones) 6. My own choice 7. Family 8. Careers advisers (very few) 9. University info (hardly anyone) 10. Internet (hardly anyone)

26 Alison Mitchell What information would you like about CS? Careers –What it involves as a job –What variety of careers use it –Job prospects General –What is it? –What is it used for? –Relevance –What skills? –Not (just) for guys! –How to manual Courses –What is involved? –Why should I study it?

27 Alison Mitchell From interviews with teachers School Computing and CS in HE are not the same –School computing is shaped by Preferences of individual Principal Teachers Whether CS or IS taught Whether pupils take only ICT Threats to Computing in schools –Reduction in no of CS teachers & their required CS qualifications –Limited CPD in rapidly changing subject –Old equipment, slow technologies –Conflicting curriculum choices –New school faculty structure: Will CS be in business admin, technology or science? Growth in ICT across the curriculum –ICT until S6 (PC passport)

28 Alison Mitchell Conclusions: Shortage of jobs is not especially widely known & is not the primary cause of declining numbers Jobs in computing are not well understood or well perceived CS applications to HE may suffer from perceived success of ICT in developing personal computing skills in schools Good pupils may see no need to take CS Senior pupils are –aware CS is not ICT –have some idea of skills –are not sure what it is

29 Alison Mitchell Conclusions: The subject has lost its novelty The subject has lost its novelty Pupils think others think CS suffers from geeky image (but not themselves) CS is thought of as too hard Pupils do not really know what it is What they do know makes them think its boring They do have an appreciation of the skills involved Parents, teachers and guidance teachers are key influencers Information in libraries appears satisfactory but pupils do not necessarily read it.

30 Alison Mitchell Computing Science: What do you think about what pupils think? What actions could you take? Theres a recruitment strategy waiting to happen.

31 Alison Mitchell The recruitment process: the past high application numbers Senior pupils Prospects Applicants Junior pupils students

32 Alison Mitchell The recruitment process: the future low application numbers Senior pupils Prospects Applicants Junior pupils students

33 Alison Mitchell Computing Science: What do pupils think? Thank you for listening Alison Mitchell University of Strathclyde a.mitchell@strath.ac.uk


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