Emergence of computing education as a research discipline

Simon Simon

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This thesis investigates the changing nature and status of computing education research (CER) over a number of years, specifically addressing the question of whether computing education can legitimately be considered a research discipline. The principal approach to addressing this question is an examination of the published literature in computing education conferences and journals. A classification system was devised for this literature, one goal of the system being to clearly identify some publications as research – once a suitable definition of research was established. When the system is applied to a corpus of publications, it becomes possible to determine the proportion of those publications that are classified as research, and thence to detect trends over time and similarities and differences between publication venues. The classification system has been applied to all of the papers over several years in a number of major computing education conferences and journals. Much of the classification was done by the author alone, and the remainder by a team that he formed in order to assess the inter-rater reliability of the classification system. This classification work led to two subsequent projects, led by Associate Professor Judy Sheard and Professor Lauri Malmi, that devised and applied further classification systems to examine the research approaches and methods used in the work reported in computing education publications. Classification of nearly 2000 publications over ranges of 3-10 years uncovers both strong similarities and distinct differences between publication venues. It also establishes clear evidence of a substantial growth in the proportion of research papers over the years in question. These findings are considered in the light of published perspectives on what constitutes a discipline of research, and lead to a confident assertion that computing education can now rightly be considered a discipline of research.
Translated title of the contributionEmergence of computing education as a research discipline
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Malmi, Lauri, Supervising Professor
  • Malmi, Lauri, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6415-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6416-1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • computing education research
  • publications
  • journals
  • conferences
  • empirical research
  • Simon's system


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