The importance of computer programming for developing primary students’ future and academic skills: Examining the time and resources allotted for it in UAE schools
The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Abstract Purpose- As the era of technology continues to evolve, programming education has garnered a growing amount of interest. Programming has an important role in preparing students and arming them with the language of the future. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the importance of programming, discuss the pedagogical philosophy of how programming is taught, identify the barriers to the proper implementation of programming education in UAE primary schools, and finally find solutions to overcome these barriers. Methodology- The study adopted a mixed methods approach to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Thirteen ICT teachers, from different schools in the UAE, were interviewed in the qualitative study to investigate their perception of the teaching of programming to primary students. A questionnaire was distributed to parents who have kids in primary school in the UAE in the quantitative study. The questionnaire received responses from 499 parents. The primary goal of the questionnaire is to validate the interview results as well as understand the parents' perspectives towards their kids' experiences with the programming being taught at school. Findings- The analysis of data revealed that the good application of programming education in UAE schools is yet to be accomplished. There is a need to reform the teaching of programming in primary schools in the UAE and to raise awareness about it and its importance in the school domain (school principals, teachers, and students) and the community domain (parents). Implications- One significant implication is that teaching programming should be taken seriously by educational policymakers and school leaders as a core subject that should be taught to all students. The study also contributed to the growing body of literature on the value of programming skills and the role of the appropriate curriculum in developing these skills. It also makes some recommendations to the MOE, the school inspections team, school managers, and teachers in order to improve education programming and overcome challenges in UAE primary schools. Originality/ value- This study provides new insights at both practical and scholarly levels. It can shed light on the field's expansion prospects. The outcomes of this study may assist educational policymakers in better implementing programming education, particularly in primary school. Moreover, it helps teachers better prepare for the problems that primary students may encounter with learning programming in schools.
programming, coding, block-based coding, computational thinking, United Arab Emirates (UAE), academic skills, computer programming, primary schools, ICT teachers