Does Computer Programming Really Help Kids Learn Math?
A new study on the Impact of Programming on Primary Mathematics Learning (abstract only, full article $24.95 on ScienceDirect) is generating some buzz on Twitter amongst K-12 CS educator types. It concluded that:
1. Programming did not benefit mathematics learning compared to traditional activities
2. There’s a negative though small effect of programming on mathematics learning
3. Mindful “high-road transfer” from programming to mathematics is not self-evident
4. Visual programming languages might distract students from mathematics activities
From the Abstract: “The aim of this study is to investigate whether a programming activity might serve as a learning vehicle for mathematics acquisition in grades four and five…. Classes were randomly assigned to the programming (with Scratch) and control conditions. Multilevel analyses indicate negative effects (effect size range 0.16 to 0.21) of the programming condition for the three mathematical notions.
“A potential explanation of these results is the difficulties in the transfer of learning from programming to mathematics.” The findings of the new study come 4+ years after preliminary results were released from the $1.5M 2015-2019 NSF-funded study Time4CS, a “partnership between Broward County Public Schools (FL), researchers at the University of Chicago, and [tech-bankrolled] Code.org,” which explored whether learning CS using Code.org’s CS Fundamentals curriculum may be linked to improved learning in math at the grade 3-5 level. Time4CS researchers concluded that the “quasi-experimental” study showed that “No significant differences in Florida State Assessment mathematics scores resulted between treatment and comparison groups.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.