A screen-based or physical computing unit? Examining secondary students’ attitudes toward coding

Tyler S. Love, Rueben S. Asempapa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In recent years there has been a growing emphasis placed on access to computational thinking (CT) instruction for every K-12 student in the United States (U.S.). Concurrently, calls for integrating CT concepts within authentic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) contexts have also increased. This is reflected by the inclusion of CT in the Next Generation Science Standards and the Standards for Technological and Engineering Literacy. However, methods for teaching CT concepts within secondary level STEM courses vary drastically. Physical computing, the design and programming of physical systems or devices using computational thinking skills, has become increasingly popular in the U.S. in attempts to integrate CT within authentic STEM problem-solving contexts. Despite this rise in popularity, there remains a limited but growing body of research investigating physical computing pedagogy and student learning. A mixed methods design was used in this study to examine 170 middle school students’ attitudes toward coding and after participating in either a screen-based or physical computing unit. The results indicated that students who completed the screen-based unit reported statistically greater attitudes toward the classroom applications and career/future use of computing concepts. Students in the treatment group believed that physical computing made learning computing concepts more difficult, but they preferred the hands-on learning opportunities provided by physical computing. Furthermore, male students reported higher attitudinal ratings than females regarding the influence computing would have on their future academic and career choices. This study provides implications for improving physical computing instruction and integration within STEM education contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100543
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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