Dr Sue Sentance was awarded the winner of the 2017 BERA Public Engagement and Impact award for her work on removing the barriers to effective computing education.
Dr Sentance conceived and developed a model of professional learning for computing educators, developed and disseminated a new model of programming teaching built around collaborative working with teachers, promoted through a growing network of practitioners, and worked with key industry players, including Microsoft, to evaluate the potential of physical computing devices to develop motivated, creative learners. Previously, professional development in this area had commonly taken the form of short-lived, subject-focused workshops based on a deficit model and top-down approach. In contrast, the model Dr Sentance developed places emphasis on engaging teachers in research and in decision making and is built around peer-to-peer, face-to-face, and local community based learning. As well as informing a national programme for the professional development of computer science teachers, the model has directly fed into the development of a nationwide research group in computer science education (CAS Research), the design and implementation of the BCS Certificate for Computer Science Teaching, and the project Teaching Inquiry in Computing Education through which teachers are supported to carry out small action research projects.
Working with Valentina Dagiene, founder of Bebras (an international computational thinking challenge running annually in 50 countries), Sue has also developed a two-dimensional categorisation for Bebras tasks which will be implemented by several countries this year. Google are supporting further development of this work. She has recently been awarded an EPSRC/Industrial CASE Studentship with Microsoft to work on the pedagogic potential of physical computing for the visually disabled.