Student Interest in Computer Science and Coding

Last fall, we asked students, parents, administrators and community members about their views on computer science and coding as part of Speak Up 2016. In honor of Computer Science Week and Hour of Code, we’re releasing these findings. (We want to hear from all education stakeholders this year! Speak Up 2017 is open for input until January 19, 2018.)

Students are interested!

67% of K-2 students are interested in learning “how to write programs to make computers do things, like in Scratch or Minecraft,” and 8% say they already do this. 61% of 3-5 students are interested, and 13% say they are already learning this skill.

Among the older students, 63% of middle school students said they would be interested in a class or after school activity to learn how to do computer programming or coding (up from 52% in 2014); 58% of high school students agreed (up from 44% in 2014). Just 6% of 6-12th graders are currently doing this.

Online learning is here. Students told us they have taken or would like to take computer science, programming and coding classes online. In 2013, just 20% of high school students reported interest in taking these classes online.

Student Interest in taking Computer Science, Programming or Coding Classes Online

Interest in coding and programming differs among boys and girls, especially by grade level. While the percentage of boys who are interested in learning how to code stays consistent from elementary through high school, the percentage of girls who are interested drops by 10 percentage points.

Students’ Interest in Learning to Code by Grade and Gender

Interest in coding translates into a greater interest and valuation on using technology for learning in general. Students interested in learning how to code have different perceptions on the value of technology for learning than students without that aspiration.

Students with an Interest in Coding Place Greater Value on Technology for Learning

 Gr 6-8 students who say they are VERY interested in learning how to code Gr 6-8 students who say they are NOT interested in learning how to code ALL Gr 6-8 students
Knowing how to use tech is important skill for my future 60%46%52%
Using tech in school increases my interest in learning 47%32%39%
I wish my teacher used more tech in our classroom39%27%32%

A relationship exists between coding experience and STEM career interest. Among students who are already in computer programming programs or classes, 41% of middle schoolers and 46% of high schoolers say they are very interested in a career in a STEM field. Comparatively, only 1/3 of all students in grades 6-12 say they are very interested in a STEM career.

Parents, district administrators and the community agree that computer science and coding classes will help students develop the workplace skills they will need to be successful in the future. It is interesting to see greater support for coding and programming among parents and administrators.

Parents, District Administrators and Community Members Say Programming and Coding Will Help Students Develop Workplace Skills

Note: Support for students taking a coding or computer programming class to develop workplace skills increased among all adult audiences – 28% of parents selected this in 2014, 31% of administrators and 23% of community members selected this option just one year earlier, in 2015.

Source: Speak Up 2016 Research Project Findings – the results of the authentic, unfiltered views of 514,085 K-12 students, parents and educators nationwide. Speak Up is an annual research initiative of Project Tomorrow, a global nonprofit organization. Learn more about Speak Up and other research findings from Project Tomorrow at tomorrow.org.

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