Bringing culturally responsive teaching to K-12 computing education

Girls at computer

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To cite this report: 

Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre (2023). Bringing culturally responsive teaching to K-12 computing education. Project Report. Available at:

Project Team

  • Sue Sentance, University of Cambridge
  • Katharine Childs, Raspberry Pi Foundation
  • Lynda Chinaka, Roehampton University
  • Anjali Das, University of Cambridge
  • Alyson Hwang, University of Cambridge
  • Jane Waite, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Executive Summary

The underrepresentation of certain groups in computing has led to increasing efforts to develop computing education that is responsive and relevant to a more diverse group of learners. The one-year research project described in this report, funded by Google, set out to investigate ways in which computing teachers in the UK could adapt their teaching to be more culturally responsive. It was conducted by researchers at the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre, a newly formed centre in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge, UK. Researchers worked closely with a small number of primary and secondary schools to gain an understanding of their current practice, and to support them in planning adaptations to their teaching. The research approach was collaborative and participatory. 

To support teachers, we developed a framework of ten areas of opportunity that teachers could consider when deciding how their practice was already or could become culturally responsive. This framework is a valuable contribution to the field that we, and others, will be able to use in broadening this research to larger groups of teachers, both within and outside of the UK.

The research was primarily centred around two workshops held in schools with participating teachers. During the first workshop, teachers worked with researchers to reflect on their current practice using the framework and planned small interventions for their classroom teaching over the coming months. In the second workshop, they reflected on how their classroom practice had evolved with a focus on culturally responsive computing teaching. 

The researchers analysed the workshop transcripts and developed four global themes that represent the teachers’ experiences. These themes indicate four ways in which schools can develop culturally responsive computing teaching: A) provision of relevant context and content; B) establishment of rapport and confidence building; C) integration of social justice into the computing curriculum; and D) multi-level review of practice. These themes are a second contribution of this research project and align with Bourdieu’s concepts of capital and habitus, and Freire’s critical pedagogy.

Our research has shown that before and after the intervention, teachers were engaging in a variety of activities that can be categorised under themes A, B and D, with less attention to social justice issues (theme C). Adaptations of context and content (theme A) were constrained by the existence of a prescribed curriculum (the English national curriculum) and existing schemes of work, but our research found that after the intervention, teachers were much more likely to introduce student choice (agency) into their classroom practice to facilitate relevant contexts for a diverse range of learners.

In summary, our research has highlighted four themes that could serve as a basis for a professional development programme for teachers wishing to develop culturally responsive computing teaching. The outputs of the project described here will include three open-access academic papers (subject to being accepted for publication), several blog posts, and a summary report on the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre’s website. There is potential for scaling up the project to reach more teachers, for using the findings to run a professional development (PD) programme, and for conducting a longitudinal mixed-method study relating to the PD programme.