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Culturally responsive computing teaching

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. Culturally relevant pedagogy is a framework for teaching that emphasises the importance of incorporating and valuing all learners’ knowledge, ways of learning, and heritage. It promotes the development of learners’ critical consciousness of the world and encourages them to ask questions about ethics, power, privilege, and social justice. Culturally relevant pedagogy emphasises opportunities to address issues that are important to learners and their communities. 

In this project, 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 evaluation project began with the development of a high-level Theory of Change (ToC) and evaluation strategy. A survey was then distributed to students and teachers before and after taking part in their respective programmes designed to measure their attitudes to and awareness of AI. We additionally conducted an implementation evaluation through interviews and focus groups to explore the experiences of students and teachers. Finally, we are analysing the reach of the programme and the demographics of the participants.


$69K, Google.org, 2022

From the project data, we developed four broad themes that represent the teachers’ experiences prior to the intervention. 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. From these findings, we have published a paper that was presented at the International Conference on Computing Education Research in 2023. 

As a result of the intervention, teachers were able to incorporate more student choice and student interests into their lessons, and get to know their students better. A publication describing these findings is still in progress (March 2024).

As part of this study we developed the Areas of Opportunity framework which other teachers and researchers can use for discussion around culturally responsive teaching in computing.

#Area of OpportunityDescription#Area of OpportunityDescription
1LearnersFind out about learners in order to reveal opportunities to adapt our teaching6ActivityProvide opportunities for learners to think about user experience and alternate viewpoints, participate in open-ended, inquiry led, or problem-solving activities.
2TeachersFind out about ourselves as practitioners – to reflect on one’s cultural lens 7CollaborationDevelop student oriented learning through collaboration and structured group discussion 
3ContentReview what is taught in terms of the content; and add in extra culturally relevant content (e.g., about social justice/ethics, data bias accessibility etc.)8Student Agency Develop student oriented learning through student choice
4ContextReview contexts and examples used – to make teaching relevant, meaningful, to contextualise and make connections 9MaterialsReview the learning environment (including learning materials) – to increase accessibility, a sense of belonging and promote respect 
5AccessibilityMake the content accessible and relevant for all learners10PolicyReview related policies, process and training in your school and department 


Waite, J., Das, A., Hwang, A., & Sentance, S. (2023, October). Culturally relevant Areas of Opportunity for K-12 computing lessons. In 2023 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

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

Leonard, H., Kirby, D., Sentance, S., Chinaka, L., Deutsch, M., Dimitriadi, Y., & Goode, J. (2021). Culturally relevant and responsive computing: A guide for curriculum design and teaching. Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Leonard, H. C., & Sentance, S. (2021). Culturally-relevant and responsive pedagogy in computing: A Quick Scoping ReviewInternational Journal of Computer Science Education in Schools5(2), 3-13.

Leonard, H. C., Kirby, D., Sentance, S., Chinaka, L., Deutsch, M., Dimitriadi, Y. and Goode, J. (2021). Localising culturally responsive computing teaching to an English context: Developing teacher guidelines. In Understanding Computing Education (Vol. 2): Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Proceedings of the Raspberry Pi Foundation Research Seminars.

Leonard, H. C., Quinlan, O., & Sentance, S. (2021, September). Female pupils’ attitudes to computing in early adolescence. In Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on United Kingdom & Ireland Computing Education Research (pp. 1-6). (Open-access author copypresentation slides, and video presentation)

Kunkeler, T., & Leonard, H. C. (2021, May). Computing skills, beliefs and identities in young people from underserved communities. In 2021 Conference on Research in Equitable and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology (RESPECT) (pp. 1-5). IEEE. (Open-access author copy)

Leonard, H. C. and Kunkeler, T. (2021). Why the ‘digital divide’ does not stop at access. In Understanding Computing Education (Vol. 2): Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Proceedings of the Raspberry Pi Foundation Research Seminars.

Other materials

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy - what does it mean for our classroom practice?
Presenting our culturally responsive computing work at BERA 2022
Developing criteria for K-12 learning resources in computer science that challenge stereotypes and promote diversity
Teaching computing through culturally relevant pedagogy can engage more diverse groups of students and support learning
Delivering a culturally relevant computing curriculum: New guide for teachers
Our project in Hello World magazine
Implementing culturally responsive computing teaching in schools in England
Culturally relevant and responsive computing in the classroom: A guide for curriculum design and teaching
Culturally relevant pedagogy in the computing classroom