Leaving Certificate Computer Science builds on the knowledge, attitudes and broad range of transferable skills that stem from the student’s educational experience at early childhood, primary and post-primary junior cycle. Computational thinking is a problem-solving methodology that can be automated and transferred across all disciplines. It allows us to solve problems, design systems, and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence. Computational thinkers use a set of core concepts to process and analyse data and create real and virtual artefacts.
Students who can think computationally are better able to conceptualise, understand and use computer-based technology, and so are better prepared for today’s world and the future.
Aistear, the early childhood curriculum framework, celebrates early childhood as a time of wellbeing and enjoyment where children learn from experiences as they unfold. The theme of Exploring and thinking is about children making sense of the things, places and people in their world by interacting with others, playing, investigating, questioning, and forming, testing and refining ideas. The theme of Communicating is about children sharing their experiences, thoughts, ideas, and feelings with others with growing confidence and competence, in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes.
The curriculum area of Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) at primary school provides opportunities for children to actively explore and investigate the world around them from a human, social and cultural perspective. A scientific approach to investigations fosters the development of important skills, concepts and knowledge through which children can observe, question, investigate, understand and think logically about living things and their environments, materials, forces, everyday events and problems. The knowledge and skills acquired may be applied in designing and making activities in which children perceive a need to create or modify elements of their environments. Through their investigations, children develop informed, critical and scientific perspectives that acknowledge the importance of founding judgements on a respect for facts, accuracy and reason.
Computer science builds on language skills developed at primary level. Through language, students learn to use appropriate sequencing, tenses, and vocabulary to tell and retell stories and personal and procedural narratives of increasing complexity. They learn to use topic-specific language to give information, to explain and to justify their ideas and to predict and reflect upon actions, events and processes relating to real and imaginary contexts. Language skills developed at primary level will help students of computer science to appreciate the importance of the correct use of language, and appreciate just how powerful words and language are in the context of social media.
The Primary School Mathematics Curriculum aims to provide children with a language and a system through which to analyse, describe, illustrate, model and explain a wide range of experiences, make predictions, and solve problems. Leaving Certificate Computer Science builds on these skills, as it supports students to think and communicate quantitatively and spatially, to solve problems, and to recognise situations where mathematics can be applied.
Many of the Statements of Learning at junior cycle relate to Leaving Certificate Computer Science, especially those statements focused on problem solving, design, communication, and understanding the role and contribution of technology in society. In addition, the key skills required for successful learning by students across the curriculum at junior cycle are relevant for Leaving Certificate Computer Science.
Many junior cycle subjects and short courses have close links with computer science, particularly mathematics, science, CSPE, and the short courses in coding and digital media literacy.
Many senior cycle subjects have close links with computer science. Computational thinking is a thought process (or a human thinking skill) that uses analytic and algorithmic approaches to formulate, analyse and solve problems. Whilst the alignment of computer science with the STEM subjects is obvious, the strategies learned in computer science also relate to learning in other subjects. For example, computer science shares similarities with language learning, as aspects such as pattern recognition, syntax, textual analysis, and argument formation are relevant to both fields of study. Computer science provides a context for students to develop metacognitive skills which will support them as they take responsibility for their own learning.
Students live in a technologically-rich world. Leaving Certificate Computer Science will provide students with the knowledge and skills that will help them to understand current computer technology and prepare them for emerging technologies. A foundation in this discipline will introduce students to the excitement and opportunities afforded by this growing and dynamic field, as well as preparing them for a range of rewarding careers.
Leaving Certificate Computer Science incorporates a broad range of transferable and trans-disciplinary skills such as problem solving, logical thinking, and creative design. It also promotes skills of synthesis, evaluation, communication, time management, organisation, and teamwork. These skills and capabilities provide support for further study and learning beyond formal education, including learning in areas such as computer programming, database analysis, computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, information technology and game development.