Fostering preservice teachers’ expectancies and values towards computational thinking
Digital technologies have become an integral part of everyday life that children are exposed to. Therefore, it is important for children to acquire an understanding of these technologies early on by teaching them computational thinking (CT) as a part of STEM. However, primary school teachers are often reluctant to teach CT. Expectancy-value theory suggests that motivational components play an important role in teaching and learning. Thus, one hindrance to teachers’ willingness to teach CT might be their low expectancies of success and high emotional costs, e.g., anxiety towards CT.
We investigated whether a specifically designed seminar on CT affected preservice teachers’ expectancies and values towards programming.Method: A total of 311 German primary school and special education preservice teachers took part in the study. The primary school preservice teachers received a seminar on CT and programming with low-threshold programming tasks, while the special education teachers served as a baseline group. The seminar was specifically designed to enhance expectancies and values and decrease emotional costs, following implications of research on expectancy-value theory.
The preservice teachers who visited the seminar gained higher expectancies and values towards CT and programming compared to the baseline group. Moreover, their emotional costs decreased. CT was positively related to change in expectancies and values and negatively related to emotional costs.
Interventions with low-threshold programming tasks can support primary school preservice teachers in finding trust in their abilities and values towards CT. Moreover, their anxiety towards CT and programming can be alleviated. Thus, first steps in preparing preservice teachers to teach CT in their future classrooms can be taken in university.