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The Interventions

Teaching Approach

The Teaching Approach intervention is based on the idea that current approaches to teaching computing may not be fully inclusive and so may be less appealing to girls. This research theme is made up of three main studies, all run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation:

Key Stage 1 (pilot): Evidence suggests that gender stereotypes develop early and so early intervention may be key to keeping girls engaged in computing. In this small pilot with 50 primary schools, we explored how storytelling and story writing can be an effective introduction to computing for pupils in Year 2 (aged 6-7). We are excited to share the results of this pilot study soon, but have had some lovely feedback from teachers in the meantime:

"The children in the class enjoyed using Scratch and as one of the teachers that delivered the lessons, I would like to say that they were well thought out and easy to complete."
- Primary school teacher, Stoke-on-Trent
"All is going well with the project thank you and the children are enjoying the learning. They are very keen to explore and discover all the new programming functions and it has been very enjoyable to teach. We are looking forward to this half term and the end outcomes."
- Infant school teacher, Portsmouth

Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3: We are currently running Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) with primary and secondary schools to assess the impact of using more collaborative, discursive teaching approaches than are often associated with computing. The interventions are running with Years 4 and 6 (aged 8-9 and 10-11), and with Year 8 (aged 12-13). Teachers have undertaken training in the teaching approaches and are now delivering the lessons, with results due in the spring term.

Belonging

Research suggests that parental encouragement and exposure to positive role models can help girls feel like computing is a subject where they belong, which can increase their engagement with computing. The Behavioural Insights Team and WISE are running this RCT and are providing opportunities for Year 5 pupils (aged 9-10) to engage with their parents and industry role models to discuss computing and its role in society. Results are due in the spring.

Relevance

Research suggests that girls value the opportunity to use computing in real-world applications. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is working with Apps for Good to deliver this RCT for pupils in Year 8 (aged 12-13), supporting them to solve real-world problems through technology while studying the computing curriculum. A small feasibility pilot has already been successfully completed, with some great feedback from teachers, and the full intervention is due to begin in January 2022, with results expected in Autumn 2022.

Informal Learning

Research suggests that girls are often unaware that what they learn about computing in extracurricular or non-formal settings can help them in formal studies of computing in school. This research theme is made up of two studies:

Code Clubs: The Raspberry Pi Foundation has adapted some of the standard computing projects which are provided for our network of Code Clubs in England to highlight to young people the links between informal and formal learning in computing. This RCT is currently underway with over 150 primary school Code Clubs in England, with results due in the spring.

Apps for Good: For secondary schools, Apps for Good adapted some of their existing resources for informal learning to better link informal and formal computing studies. This study was run with Year 8 pupils (aged 12-13) in the summer term of the 2020-2021 academic year with over 50 secondary schools. We are excited to share the results of this study soon, and have received some really useful feedback from teachers:

"Thank you for all the resources, the groups that have accessed the course have really enjoyed it."
- Secondary school teacher, Nottingham
"I have really enjoyed the program and I can see that this style of project does impact learners."
- Secondary school teacher, Surrey

Subject Choice Exploratory Research

This strand of the GBIC programme has been a piece of research by the Behavioural Insights Team into possible links between school subject choice systems and the gender imbalance in Computer Science GCSE. A review of the existing evidence, semi-structured interviews, and analysis of publicly available data have been completed to answer this research question. Further exploratory research will explore the presentation of Computer Science at options evenings and in options booklets. Both pieces of research will explore whether the ways that schools present Computer Science to pupils could be a contributing factor to the current gender imbalance. Results are due in the summer.

“I did decide that computer science was probably a better way to go because technology and computers are the way of the world, and especially in the future.”
-Year 9 pupil, Durham