Engagement in physical computing for the primary classroom: the BBC Micro:bit experience
Abstract: Computational thinking is an essential skill for 21st century learners. Many efforts have been made to support and enhance computer science instruction in formal and informal educational settings. However, it remains a challenge to engage students in algorithmic design and computer programming. Physical computing, the approach of computer-human interaction design that links computer programming with the physical world, promises to increase student motivation and engagement. However, the nature of student engagement in physical computing activities has not been extensively studied. The main aim of this study is to investigate the nature of primary school students engagement in physical computing activities through a popular single-board physical computing device, the BBC Micro:bit. The study uses the constructionism as its theoretical framework and implements a series of project-based physical computing activities with primary school students. Mixed methods design have been employed. Study findings highlight the cognitive, behavioural, emotional and social dimensions of student engagement in physical computing activities using the BBC Micro:bit. High engagement levels in all four dimensions were revealed with the emotional dimension to prevail. The study findings can inform future physical coding activities and pedagogical approaches that foster pupils’ engagement.