Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Research Study

Increasing high school student access to computer science requires a cadre of qualified educators who can teach computing courses. However, few avenues exist for teachers to train in computer science pedagogy.

WestEd is conducting a four-year, mixed-methods study on how teachers develop computer science teaching knowledge through TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), an on-the-job professional development program. The National Science Foundation is funding this study, titled Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge (CSPCK).

Key Research Questions

WestEd aims to answer the following key research questions:

  • What do teachers need to know to teach computer science effectively?
  • How can computer science teaching knowledge be assessed?
  • How well does an on-the-job professional development program that incorporates co-teaching with technology industry professionals prepare new computer science educators?


WestEd researchers are collecting quantitative data on a large sample of TEALS teachers and triangulating the results with case studies of a sub-sample of participants in the San Francisco Bay Area. The researchers are visiting the study participants monthly to gather additional data.

Intended Impact

The CSPCK study is identifying how alternate training routes can prepare quality computer science high school teachers. Our research team is creating a theoretical framework to explain computer science teaching knowledge development and tools for assessing this knowledge.

These tools can be adopted by trainers, researchers, and policymakers interested in improving computer science teacher certification. Results from the study will be disseminated through conferences, workshops, and publications. For more information, please contact Aleata Hubbard at or 650.381.6443.