Teaching Computer Science in the Victorian Certificate of Education: A Pilot Study

TitleTeaching Computer Science in the Victorian Certificate of Education: A Pilot Study
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCox R, Bird S, Meyer B
Published inProceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
Keywordsalgorithmic thinking, computational thinking, Computer science education, Edgy, graphs, high school education, Snap!

A new computer science curriculum has been developed for the Victorian Certificate of Education. It gives students direct entry into second year University computer science. The curriculum focuses on data structures and algorithms, with an emphasis on the graph abstract data type and graph algorithms. We taught a pilot course during 2014 involving students from seven schools, and administered an algorithmic thinking quiz on entry and exit, and also tested a first year university reference group. In this paper we present the curriculum and report on the evaluation. We discuss the effectiveness of our approach and make recommendations for improving future versions of the course. Pedagogical issues are discussed in relation to the cognitive education literature on the teaching of algorithmic thinking.


We are grateful to Paula Christophersen (VCAA), to the students in the pilotoering of VCE Algorithmics for their participation and support, and for a grant from Google Australia: Blended Learning Across the Secondary-Tertiary Divide.

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