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Collaborative Problem Solving and Worked Examples in Code Clubs

This report tests whether a collaborative problem-solving approach is applicable to the context of Code Clubs in England.

In the Autumn term of 2017 we worked with six Code Clubs in schools in England to try a new approach to teaching programming and explore the impact it had on collaborative problem-solving and the understanding of programming concepts. We provided children with ‘worked examples’ of completed programmes and questions about how they worked to encourage discussion and for them to manipulate and explore. We compared this to our usual approach of providing step-by-step instructions for children to build projects from the start. This report outlines the successes and limitations of this new approach.

Key findings

  • Fostering collaborative problem-solving takes a structured approach, and needs to be closely facilitated, particularly in informal learning environments. This might involve setting up the environment to strongly encourage collaboration, or explicitly giving children roles to take.
  • Worked example-based resources can encourage and allow space for children to take an exploratory and creative approach to programming.
  • Worked examples can focus children’s attention on key aspects of the learning objectives, compared to the step-by-step instructions where their focus can end up on other aspects of building the project such as presentation.
  • It can sometimes be difficult for adults to see the progress with worked examples since the children hadn’t built them from scratch.


Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan

Head of Impact and Research, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Oliver was a programme manager for Nesta’s digital education projects. He is now Head of Impact and Research at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

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Lucia Flóriánová

Lucia is a social researcher who worked on qualitative research with participants in Raspberry Pi Foundation programmes and is studying for a Masters in Sociology at Cambridge.

Rik Cross

Rik is a former IT and Computing teacher, and currently leads the Informal Learning Team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Dr. Tracy Gardner

Tracy is a computer scientist who spent 10 years as a software architect at IBM and now writes educational content for the Raspberry Pi Foundation.