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Examining the Current State and Interest of Computer Science in Secondary Schools

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Listen and learn : Research paper
Lecture presentation

Sunday, November 29, 7:45–8:30 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)
Presentation 2 of 2
Other presentations:
Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Professionals

David Pratt  
Dr. Anastasia Trekles  

This study presents the results of a recent survey of 263 respondents across the nation involved in offering computer science in secondary schools. Results identified current technologies being used and interest in a variety of topics including cybersecurity, hacking, game-based learning, robotics and computer forensics.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Principals/head teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Topic: Computer science & computational thinking
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
  • Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.
  • Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
Additional detail: Session recorded for video-on-demand

Proposal summary


This study took a grounded theoretical approach as it provided the opportunity to explore through open-ended questions the types of computer science offerings that were available. This study also relies on motivational theories as many survey questions are based on users interest in computer science topics.


This study was an exploratory mixed-methods design aimed at determining the current computer science course offerings around the country. A survey was developed with fixed (Likert-Scale) and open ended questions. A total of 35 questions were asked including the following:
Please rate your interest in the following cybersecurity topics: Cyber hacking, computer forensics, robotic gaming, 3D games, other (on a rating scale from Not Interested to Very interested).
The survey was posted in the following forums and shared in the following ways:
● Shared with teachers who had previously participated in PNW’s GenCyber Teacher Camp 2017, as well as the 2018 Teacher Camp;
● Shared with directors of other GenCyber teacher camps across the nation to be relayed to the teachers they are connected with;
● Shared with attendees of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) annual conference in Omaha, NE in early July;
● Posted on the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) Commons online forums for Computer Science, the general Commons, and the Digital Citizenship Network;
● Posted in the ECS Open Group at

The survey has reached many teachers all over the country, and worldwide, due to participation in online forums and at conferences. All told, it is estimated that the survey has been offered to approximately 25,000 teachers.

The survey was conducted between May and October of 2018. There were a total of 263 total respondents.


Respondents indicated high levels of interest in the use of 3D games particularly for learning computer science content (including C++, Java, Python, Scratch, and

Another area of note in the data is that many teachers (51%) do not have the ability to install new software or add new equipment to their classrooms. However, many schools do have devices available, often at a 1:1 ratio, and the mix is nearly equal between Windows and Chrome-based operating systems. There are also This indicates that the products under development must be both platform-agnostic and easy to access via the Web, rather than available only through the download and installation of software

Teachers noted that game-based learning appears to increase student learning and motivation, and it was indicated that there is strong interest in students in making computer games as well as playing them. Nearly all teachers responded positively to the prompt, “Based on your observation, are your students motivated to learn through playing games?” with 210/214 stating YES (98%).
• Most teachers agreed with the statement: "Game-based learning raises students' interests in learning". 73% Agreed or Strongly Agreed.
• Nearly all teachers responded positively to the prompt, “Based on your observation, are your students motivated to learn through playing games?” with 210/214 stating YES (98%).
• Responses to the survey question, “If you were provided with computer games that teach cybersecurity concepts and knowledge, would you use the games to teach cybersecurity or related topics in the future?” indicated that 182/214 (85%) responded YES.
• Cybersecurity topics were all rated as something teachers would be interested or very interested in using in their classrooms.
207 out of 214 respondents (97%) agreed with the prompt, “I would like to learn more about cybersecurity.”


The importance of this study is to gain a perspective on the current state of computer science offerings in secondary schools since it is such a fluid and constantly adapting field. The importance is also evident in making sure that we are preparing our young people to succeed in the world and in fields that are demanding these types of skill sets.


Glaser, B. and Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London.

Hubwieser, P. (2012). Computer Science Education in Secondary Schools -- The Introduction of a New Compulsory Subject. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 12(4), 1-41.

Hubwieser, P., Armoni, M., Giannakos, M., & Mittermeir, R. (2014). Perspectives and Visions of Computer Science Education in Primary and Secondary (K-12) Schools. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 14(2), 1-9.

Lee, Ahlam. "Determining the Effects of Computer Science Education at the Secondary Level on STEM Major Choices in Postsecondary Institutions in the United States." Computers & Education 88 (2015): 241-55.

Serhat Bahadir Kert, Filiz Kalelioglu, & Yasemin Gülbahar. (2019). A Holistic Approach for Computer Science Education in Secondary Schools. Informatics in Education, 18(1), 131-150.

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David Pratt, Purdue University Northwest
Dr. Anastasia Trekles, Centier Bank

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