Based on common program elements reported in research conducted by the computer science education community, we provide the following program elements. We encourage researchers and educators to report on each of the program elements (as applicable) to allow for replication and comparison of activities and studies. The elements are provided below. (Citation information is located within the PDF and below the following table.)

Recommendations for Reporting Pre-College Computing Activities (version 1.0) (PDF)

Student Demographics

As applicable, provide: Example
Ages and grade levels “grades 4-5 (ages 9-11)”; “15 in grade 6 (ages 10-12), 26 in grade 7 (ages 11-13)”; avoid locale-specific terms (“middle school”)
Number of students “24 students participated”; “3 sections of 15 students each”
Gender “all female students”; “4 male, 16 female, and 2 nonbinary students”
Specific locations, including city, state, and country “activity was held at University in AnyTown, State/Region, Country”
Prior CS education “students had no prior computing courses”; “15% of students had taken an introductory computing course prior to the activity”
Prior CS experience (informal curriculum, out of school activities) “20% of students had participated in hour of code last academic year”; “16% of students were involved in after school robotics club”
Race/ethnicity of students “20% of students were Caucasian, 18% African-American, 20% Hispanic, and 42% did not specify”
Student Disabilities “16% of students receive special education services”; “23% of students have disabilities, including
Socio-economic status of students “5% of population (U.S.) receive free/reduced lunch”

Instructor Demographics

As applicable, provide: Example
Number of instructors “activity was led by 2 instructors who took turns teaching and helping students, along with 3 teaching assistants to assist during lab”
Who taught the activity “activity was taught by the researcher”; “activity was taught by a school teacher”; “activity was run by a second-year undergraduate Computer Science major”
Prior experience of instructors “instructor taught summer camps for 15 years and taught in the computing department of a university for 20 years”
Gender “instructors were both male”; “there were two male instructors and three female teaching assistants”
Race/ethnicity of instructors “the instructors were white”; “one instructor was African American and one was Hispanic”

Program Components

As applicable, provide: Example
Clearly defined learning objectives (specific skills/knowledge activity to be taught or attitudes to be changed) “By the end of the activity, students were expected to be able to program proficiently with Prolog and demonstrate that knowledge through a series of short group demonstrations to the class”; “the activity was designed to increase student interest in technology careers”
Type of activity “this one-on-one tutoring activity”; “the activity was a competition designed to…”
Required or elective “this was an elective activity”; “this activity was required of all 6th grade students”
When activity was offered “this was a summer camp”; “club met after school”; “activity was held during the school day”
Curriculum used “curriculum was created by instructor”; “CS for Students materials were used”; “materials from the Scratch website were used (give URL)”
Teaching Method “pair programming was used”; “students worked in teams”; “students listened to the presenters”
Tool/language used “projects were completed in Scratch”; “projects were completed using Arduino boards”
Duration of activity, including contact hours “workshop ran 3 days for 45 minutes each day”; “club met after school twice a month for one hour each meeting for the entire school year (35 weeks)”
Average number of students in each session (if multiple sessions) “an average of 20 students per session”
Accommodations for learners with disabilities “students with disabilities were accommodated using their current individualized plan”; “activities were reviewed for accessibility for students with vision or hearing disabilities”
Date of the activity “activity ran from August 2015 to May 2016”; “the camp took place in July 2013”
Materials/resources needed (including physical space and material costs) “activity required use of a computer lab with the XYZ software installed (which can be downloaded as a free trial version from URL)”; “The camp required the use of a computer lab as well as facilities for lunch and snacks throughout the day. Cost per student for supplies was \$50.”
Preparation time “the instructors spent four weeks planning for the camp activities”
CSTA Categories and Levels (or equivalent) “this activity encompasses CSTA practices P2 and P5 and is at level 2, and includes coverage of the following subconcepts from the CS-Troubleshooting concept”


Citing this Resource

To cite this resource, please use:

Monica M. McGill, Adrienne Decker, and Zachary Abbott. 2018. Improving Research and Experience Reports of Pre-College Computing Activities: A Gap Analysis. In Proceedings of the 2018 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE ’18). ACM, New York, NY, USA


  title={Improving research and experience reports of pre-college computing activities: A gap analysis},
  author={McGill, Monica M and Decker, Adrienne and Abbott, Zachary},
  booktitle={Proceedings of the 49th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education},