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INFORMATICS IN EDUCATION, 2008, Vol. 7, No. 2, 237-258
© Institute of Mathematics and Informatics,

ISSN 1648-5831

A Methodological Review of the Program Evaluations in K-12 Computer Science Education

Justus J. RANDOLPH

Department of Computer Science and Statistics, University of Joensuu P.O. Box 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland E-mail: justusrandolph@gmail.com

Abstract

Because of the potential for methodological reviews to improve practice, this article presents the results of a methodological review, and meta-analysis, of kindergarten through 12th grade computer science education evaluation reports published before March 2005. A search of major academic databases, the Internet, and a query to computer science education researchers resulted in 29 evaluation reports that met stringent criteria for inclusion. Those reports were coded in terms of their demographic characteristics, program characteristics, evaluation characteristics, and evaluation findings.

It was found that most of the programs offered direct computer science instruction to North American high school students. Stakeholder attitudes, program enrollment, academic achievement in core courses, and achievement in computer science courses were the most frequently measured outcomes. Questionnaires, existing sources of data, standardized tests, and teacher- or researcher-made tests were the most frequently used types of measures. Based on eight programs that offered direct computer science instruction, the average increase on tests of computer science achievement over the course of the program was 1.10 standard deviations, or the statistical equivalent of 73 out of 100 program participants having shown improvement. Some of the main challenges for the evaluation of computer science education programs are the absence of standardized, reliable, and valid measures of K-12 computer science education and coming to understand the causal links between program activities, gender, and program outcomes.

Keywords:

methodological review, meta-analysis, computer science education, evaluation, methods


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