Trust in code

Thoughts on tech by Antje Kazimiers

Gender aspects of computer science education

In our FSFE Women gatherings, we usually propose a topic for the upcoming meeting. I suggested to present women-related papers in computer science and gender aspects of teaching and learning CS in the next one, because I came across a couple of papers in that field recently.

In this post, I will start collecting thoughts on these papers. The first one is:

Gender Differences in Scratch Programs of Primary School Children

by Alexandra Funke and Katharina Geldreich (Link))

The authors give some theoretical background and related work on the topic of gender differences in programming. They developed a programming course for students of fourth grade of primary schools using Scratch. The topic they chose for programming was Circus, a metaphor they hoped to attract both girls and boys equally.

The author’s goal was to investigate the relationship between the student’s gender and the characteristics of the program they created. Therefore they analysed the programs, especially which blocks girls used, in comparison to boys.

Some findings listed below:

“We observe that male students use twice as often Motion blocks. Female students instead use twice as often blocks out of the Look section. The usage of Control and Event blocks are nearly the same for both groups.”

They found that girls produced much more Story-programs (79 % of these were made by girls). Against this, male students developed more programs which were categorized as Game (90 % of these were made by boys).

I find those results highly interesting. They should have an effect on educators' strategies to raise interest and to motivate students to learn programming. If boys and girls choose to write different types of programs, then this matters when educators choose examples to explain programming concepts, and it matters when tasks given by teachers.

This is day 59 of my #100daystooffload series, a challenge to write 100 blog posts in a year.