Teachers see computer science as critical to students' future success

Today marks the start of another Computer Science Education Week, which means tech companies and teachers around the world are turning their attention to coding. But while a vast majority of teachers say that computer science education is an important component to future success for students, many feel they are underqualified to teach it and even more say the resources are lacking, according to a new survey of 540 K-12 teachers conducted by Microsoft and YouGov (opens in new tab).

Overall, the survey found that 88 percent of teachers believe computer science is "critical to ensuring students' future success in the workplace." And while coding is the most obvious skill that computer science education can help students develop, educators see it as a gateway to help promote other critical skills as well. Thirty-eight percent of teachers surveyed said computer science would help students hone problem-solving skills, while 31 percent said it could help build logic and reasoning skills. Further, 83 percent of teachers surveyed said coding could help bolster students' creativity.

Despite a belief in its importance, however, 20 percent of teachers said that students aren't taught computer science at all, with reasons ranging from a lack of funding to it simply not being a part of the curriculum. Thirty percent of teachers also said they feel underqualified to teach computer science.

Finally, a vast majority of teachers surveyed, 80 percent, say that big tech companies – like Microsoft, Google, and Apple – should be involved in helping kids build computer science skills. Nearly the same portion – 75 percent – say that Federal and State governments "aren't doing enough to equip schools" with the resources to develop these skills.

For this year's Computer Science Education Week, Microsoft has teamed up with Code.org once again to offer a new Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial, calling Voyage Aquatic. Microsoft is also hosting Hour of Code activities all across Europe (opens in new tab) in a bid to bring together students, teachers, and government officials. The company also announced today that it is committing $10 million to help Code.org advance computer science education policies across every state.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Pure Propaganda... they always make up that bs when they look at India or Chinese stem graduation rates... the reality is that they consider them all stale and unhirable as full time staff after their first job gets axed...they need to stop the endless cycle of throwing people away and hiring new batches of kids instead. Because they view people as tainted. By a layoff...you always hear of absurd things like phds working as restaurant staff or bus driver or working as coffee baristas because they were tossed years ago...
  • PhD's working as bus drivers, staff or restaurants is living proof that knowledge isn't power. And that power is what you do with that knowledge. Anyhow some kids really don't have the resources so this a good thing. Way to go Microsoft for providing a stepping stone for the future of coders.
  • The question is... did they took the knowledge home after graduation?
    I was from IT. I choose everything programming related, and my friends? Better be no programming, better be no exam, they choose whichever is easier. They just want a paper... no?
    I don't care if they were hard, I only do things I'm interested. But, as you can guess... I ignore things I'm not interested. I'll get a pass but I don't go further. I was not a good student in general. I've created a simple 3d game with custom graphic engine.
    And, before my Bachelor graduation. 1 day I was napping in the PC lab. Someone tapped my shoulder and start me an interview. I rejected the offer cause I want to continue study. I've created my own framework (and png animation) before jQuery's time.
    Other students use static keyframe animation for their Flash projects, as they were taught. I developed my own dynamic keyframe animation technique (cause static kf is darn ugly).
    Jobs came to me before I graduated Master. C++ is my root and Havok is the only tech that took me a month to start (with the help from docs) because I had 0 3d programming knowledge at the time.
    I can start fumble around Java, html5, php, Unreal, Python, Unity, mySQL, etc on day1, with no books or teaching.
    I know how to create my own game engine, no mater what client language you throw at me.
  • Um, PhD's in computer science are among the most sought after skilled workers ... First job or not ...
  • Success in the workplace isn't linked in any obvious way to any specific science or technology, to any specific subject matter, or to any specific facts. By the time that a middle schooler is ready to enter the workforce, all of these will have changed unpredictably. Some things will not change nearly as quickly as "technology". People will still need houses in which to live, with walls, plumbing and wiring. People will still need to eat and purchase the materials that they need to live. The majority of the people needing and providing those things will have little or no need to understand computer science to be successful. They will need to LEARN how to use computer technology appliances that are introduced years AFTER they graduate. "Computer science" doesn't exist. It's a myth, a catchphrase to describe something that the speaker does not understand. It's the same non-thinking jargon that people use when they describe a fancy car radio with a touchscreen as "technology", as if it is any more "technology" than the faux leather seat coverings. Computer coding, is not "computer science". It's writing logically in a foreign language.
    Computer program engineering is not "computer science" . It's using a specific set of engineering techniques to convert an algorithm or procedure into an unambiguous structure that can be coded. What is critical to an adult citizen's future success is knowing how to think rationally and logically to express their ideas and results in a clan and unambiguous manner, and to have mastered thow to learn efficiently and effectively whatever they need to perform the jobs they are employed to do. Today's American public school teachers are not helping their student to learn those essential skills. I think that most teachers don't understand science, don't know the difference between science and technology. There is NOT a shortage of "teachers" , to "teach" problem solving skills. . There are too many professional "teachers" who do not understand that the operational activity in education is NOT "teaching", but learning. They treat education as something that they can force, persuade, or drill into another person, never realizing that the students are mostly learning things other than the subject matter, and little of it flattering to the "teachers". Too many "teachers" are sidewalk superintendents shouting "build a hospital , this way" through the fence to workers trying to put up a skyscraper. Most "teachers" lack the practical skills and the working environment to motivate the people working (being a public school student is an involuntary unpaid JOB, essentially slavery to provide work for "teachers") under their direction to learn. They work in a system that uses punishment during the learning process with an abstract deferred reward. Modern DOG schools use more effective educational techniques. What there IS a shortage of in American Public Education are SME's (subject matter experts) on call for education MOTIVATORS to connect to students. A retired engineer could provide problems that were interesting and meaningful to virtually any student, and provide enough just enough guidance and encouragement to help the student learn how to learn. Having recording of best-in-class teacher and SMEs available for any learner, any subject could help a "stuck" learner get past his difficulty. Chances of either happening is near zero with "teacher's unions" barring the way. Most tenured "teachers" can barely USE a computer, haven't the foggiest idea about the difference between being able to USE a computer, being able to maintain a computer or network, and being able to design a microprocessor. Even microprocessor design isn't science; it's engineering. The second doesn't require a deep understanding of computers internal operations, how they actually work. The majority of all people in the computer industry do NOT use computer science to perform their jobs; they use computers - and their brains. The "computer industry" is very much like the "automotive industry". There are a very few theoretical scientists doing research into things that may some day be incorporated into an automobile. Few of them had "automobile" in their career or educational plans, and if they had, there were no college curriculums focusing on "engine science", but thermodynamics.. There are a few mechanical or electronics engineers turning research findings into prototype automotive components. There are a LOT of technicians and mechanics involved in converting the engineering prototypes into finished components. Systems engineers combine the components into more complex machines . Technicians build those machines. There are many more technicians involved in maintaining and servicing vehicles after sale than people using science to do their jobs. None of these people, including the scientists and engineers, received education in "automotive science". Some learned the principles of scientific thinking, some applied these principles to study an area of physics. (All science is ultimately a branch of physics; sub-specialties working backwards until better tools are developed, biologists learning the chemical processes underlying what they can see, chemists learning the physics that underlie those chemical reactions. ) Some of those people learned how to apply engineering techniques to utilize the results of the scientists, or took the results of previous engineers to construct more complex or efficient machines. Most simply learned how to operate machines I saw the same kind of misconception when I was in high school in the 1970s.. My teachers were pushing students to major in engineering because there was a widespread misconception about the actual shortage of engineers. There was a shortage, but it was about 10% of the number of students that were persuaded to enter an engineering curriculum in college and as a result more than half the graduates couldn't get jobs that were actually engineering jobs. Instead many of them ended up working as technicians because there was a shortage of technicians. Most engineers who start as engineers do not continue working as engineers; they use the discipline logical thinking and organizational skills they applied as engineers to other careers. They were more successful financially in those roles than they were as engineers- because there was a glut of engineers and then an oversupply of entry level one who could take over and maintain what they created. Let me be clear- there is nothing wrong with working as a technician. Most of the "tech" people who the perform the necessary work of maintaining computers, operating networks and even designing large data centers are technicians. That is true in every industry. Technicians keep the world running. The problem is that most technicians could have entered their career track years earlier and better prepared with tech school education, instead of a much more expensive 4 year college degree. Before you sneer at that as a dead end career path, look up the average pay of electrical and electronics engineers, software developers, journeymen plumbers, and tool and die makers.
    Then look at how few college educated engineers with 10 years experience have more job security than an journeyman plumber.