Coding out of Poverty is a program run by University Sains Malaysia (USM), one of the biggest universities in Malaysia with pioneering, trans-disciplinary research aiming to empower future talents and Finnish Education Solutions Sdn Bhd (FEDS), the local representative of Code School Finland in Malaysia. The program also involves Faculty of Education at Oulu University as a research partner.
The main goal of the program in the first pilot phase was to intrigue students in coding to stimulate human capital growth for software industries in Malaysia. Code School Finland participated in this phase by providing the teacher briefing, the student course materials and conducting the instructional activities with the students online remotely from Finland.
One research area focused on examining students’ attitudes towards programming and also how teachers evaluated the course and their students’ learning.
- The pilot course improved the students’ attitude towards programming. On a scale of 1 – 5 (1= very negative and 5 = very positive), the mean average increased from 3.97 to 4.28.
- Project-based collaborative approaches in learning programming influenced positively on students’ learning experiences.
- Teachers found the contents of the pilot course suitable for their students and in line with the curriculum.
Recommendations to educators based on the results
Don’t be afraid of running projects remotely. The remote setting works well especially with work life related projects such as the one studied in this research. Participating in video meetings and communicating digitally is an important part of the modern work life. The students got plenty of practice with these skills during this project.
To improve your students attitude towards learning programming add elements of design thinking and design process to your projects. Ask students not just to create something, but make them plan, create, assess, redesign and assess again their projects. Design-based project learning adds more opportunities for innovation and creativity than traditional project-based learning. Traditional project-based learning tends to lead to outcomes that all resemble each other more or less. In design-based learning there are no teacher models to be copied and students can come up with their own designs. This creates more space for peer learning and student-centered learning. More information is built and shared among the students.
Peer learning has several benefits to the classroom. Most importantly, students learn a great deal by explaining their ideas to others. Students are often more capable of reflecting and exploring ideas when the presence and authority of the teacher does not influence them. Thus, learning with peers makes learning less formal and connects more with real-life situations.
Purpose of the research
- To examine students’ attitude towards programming during a programming course.
- To examine how teachers evaluated the course and their students’ learning.
Contents & Methodology
20 hours in 2 weeks
Mixed age groups: 13-15 year old
The pilot course consisted of introduction to Python programming (6 hours) and of a work life project (14 hours). The pedagogy of the pilot course was based on Code School Finland’s design based project learning.
The data collected for the study consisted of the following:
- Observation of the sessions
- Student surveys
- Group discussion of the teachers after the course. In the discussion the teachers evaluated the course contents, the students’ engagement and learning processes.