Introducing research series from the Raspberry Pi Foundation

Cover of Code Club PublicationI’ve just launched a new series of publications sharing the research that happens at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The first publication, an independent evaluation of Code Club by NfER, is online now and more is to come soon.

I’ve been working on all sorts of research at the foundation in the last 12 months. I’ve evaluated programmes internally, worked with NfER to evaluate them independently, run trials with the Behavioural Insights Team, surveyed participants in programmes and carried out scoping for new projects. I think we’ve really moved forward on how well informed we our and the depth of thinking we’ve developed around the work we are doing. For many orgnanisations this would be enough, but I think it’s important to also share this kind of work as much as possible.

Why publish and share? Any education programmes we run are underpinned by a whole set of decisions and thinking. These programmes involve young people, parents, teachers, other educators and volunteers. In fact most are reliant on the efforts of volunteers or participants. It’s important that these people are able to see the thinking behind them. It will help them to be better informed about why we are doing things the way they are. It also gives the opportunity for conversations about this thinking and these decisions beyond the organisation. People can feed back and discuss, and help us make what we are doing work as well as possible.

There are also lots of other organisations working in a similar area to us. We could be seen as ‘competitors’, but actually the feeling in the sector of computing education and digital making is very collegiate. We’re keen to stay part of that and to continue to support it – the more people working on digital education opportunities for young people the closer we all get to reaching our goals. Publishing the research we do helps to keep open this conversation about the thinking behind what we are all doing. I hope other organisations can take something from the work we publish, but I also hope we all talk about the successes and the challenges we are all discovering, and move our thinking forward together.

The first publication on the new area of the website is the evaluation of Code Club. I’ve been involved in a few independent evaluations now, working on different sides of projects in my time at Nesta and now here. These projects can give some useful validation of the effect something is having, but perhaps more importantly they give organisations in depth and detailed feedback on where they need to learn and develop. The Code Club evaluation really achieved both of these. It found that attending a Code Club can be linked to a good improvement in programming skills. It also gathered lots of positive feedback on how the process of running a Code Club is working for schools, teachers and students and the impact it is having on their confidence. However, there was lots to learn. The development of children’s computational thinking skills could not be linked to their time in clubs, and this has given us a lot of food for thought on how we develop these skills and how children transfer them beyond clubs.

We had a great launch event for the report in mid March, where there was some really interesting discussion about computational thinking and about the approaches we are all taking to teaching programming. It was good to launch the publications series with a gathering of researchers and practitioners in computing and digital making, very much kicking it off with the kind of discussion we are hoping to fuel with publishing our research.

More publications are on the way. I’ve got some interesting research projects in the pipeline and looking forward to sharing more on the plans for these as they develop. I’m also putting together the comprehensive information we gathered from the network of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators last year, and will soon be sharing that. Now we have this initiative set up, expect to see much more regular sharing of what we are learning and how it is influencing our thinking.

For now, take a look at the ‘Research and Insights’ page over at RaspberryPi.org.

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Collaboration in digital making
12 months at the Raspberry Pi Foundation

Also published on Medium.

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