Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 551–573 | Cite as

Computational thinking in compulsory education: a survey study on initiatives and conceptions

  • Elisa Nadire CaeliEmail author
  • Jeppe Bundsgaard
Cultural and Regional Perspectives


This article communicates the results of a Danish survey study conducted in 2018 that aimed to examine initiatives relating to computational thinking in primary and lower-secondary schools, as well as the professional development of teachers and the perceptions of school principals in this area. The context is an increasing interest in this field, motivated by a sense that it is important for children to learn computational thinking skills. However, educators struggle with questions regarding what computational thinking in education actually is—and consequently, how they should teach and assess it. In this survey, we wanted to explore existing practices and current situations to find out what school principals regard as important; thus, we designed an electronic questionnaire on this topic. 98 principals started the survey, and 83 completed it. Our analysis suggests that many initiatives connected to computational thinking are currently being implemented, but according to the principals taking part, teachers are not trained to teach this subject. The principals have inclusive views and focus on broad aspects of what computational thinking involves. According to them, computational thinking is not about pushing students into computing careers; rather it is about supporting the well-rounded development of human beings in a free and democratic society. However, the principals do report limited understanding of this subject, which suggests that teachers are not the only ones in need of training—principals also need help to develop a culture and mindset around this subject and implement it efficiently into schools.


Computational thinking Technological understanding Computing curriculum Compulsory education 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Danish School of EducationAarhus UniversityCopenhagen NVDenmark

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