What is it about?

Integrated computing curricula blend computing skills with other subjects like literacy, math, or science. This approach aims to introduce all students to computing concepts early on, before they choose whether to take standalone computer science (CS) courses. The goal is to make an introductory computing course more accessible by incorporating computing lessons into mandatory classes. This study analyzed these integrated curricula to see what CS practices and concepts are taught, how thoroughly they are covered, and how well they might prepare students for future computing courses. The researchers examined K-8 curricula used in non-CS classrooms that explicitly included CS learning objectives and took more than five hours to complete. We scored lesson plans and resources based on an established CS education framework.

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Why is it important?

The study found that these integrated curricula mostly cover basic concepts like sequences, while core topics like conditionals are rarely taught. As a result, students typically do not learn essential computing concepts such as variables, operators, data collection or storage, or abstraction. This limited focus is suitable for integrated curricula but suggests that these curricula should not necessarily be treated as prior knowledge when students begin standalone CS courses.


Integrated computing curricula always represent trade-offs between learning objectives in CS and those in the integrated discipline. Using integrated computing in required courses, like math or language arts, ensures that all students get some experience with computing, but there is often little room for CS learning, especially when the integrated discipline is part of standardized testing. This paper does NOT argue that CS learning objectives should be more prominent in integrated curricula, but it highlights that these curricula do not teach many of the core concepts and practices identified in the K-12 CS framework.

Lauren Margulieux
Georgia State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Intent and Extent: Computer Science Concepts and Practices in Integrated Computing, ACM Transactions on Computing Education, May 2024, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery),
DOI: 10.1145/3664825.
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