Exploring Students’ Experiences and Perceptions of Computer Science: A Survey of Austrian Secondary Schools

Sara Hinterplattner, Marina Rottenhofer, Iris Groher, Barbara Sabitzer

Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Computer Supported Education - Volume 2: CSEDU, 2022

Companies regularly report difficulties in recruiting ICT specialists. The shortage of skilled women in this domain is especially prominent. Research shows that early exposure to STEM may spark children’s interest and influence their future choice of careers. Children’s understanding and conceptualization of their physical environment strongly influence their ability to grasp STEM concepts and learning outcomes in related subjects. The goal of our work is to provide a better picture of children’s conceptions before they are confronted with computer science as a subject at school. To investigate students’ preconceptions of computer science, a study of 188 fifth-grade students was conducted before they first experienced computer science lessons at school. We asked them about their perceptions and experiences of computer science. Our results show that both students who identify as female and those who identify as male have a narrow view of computer science and associate the field mainly with working with computers. Despite the narrow view, many students show an interest in computer science but few want to work in this field in the future. Students who identify as male have a significantly higher interest in the field than those who identify as female.