Ireland can learn from other developed countries in the development of a computer science course at Leaving Certificate level, according to a new report led by a team of researchers at the University of Limerick.
The report, commissioned by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), aims to advise on the best methods for implementing a course for upper second-level students.
It examined the experience of those implementing computer science courses in England, Scotland, New Zealand, Ontario and Israel.
Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Education (pictured), welcomed the research.
"The value of computer science is much greater than the subject itself," he said. "Taught well, it educates students in problem solving, innovation and creativity. It also boosts career opportunities as students with an understanding of computer science are required across a diverse range of industries."
"Ireland is well positioned to learn from the international experience and developments detailed in this report," commented John Hammond, acting CEO of the NCCA.
"The renewed and growing appreciation of the importance of computer science programmes internationally, particularly at upper secondary level, points to now being an opportune time to introduce computer science as a Leaving Certificate subject."
The report found that low participation rates amongst girls is a challenge, but girls who take part in computer science courses often perform better than their male classmates.
"An interesting finding from other jurisdictions indicates that when girls participate in computer science courses, they tend on average to achieve better grades than their male counterparts. In this regard, we can learn a lot from Israel where female participation is 40%," said Clare McInerney, Lero education and outreach manager, UL.
The preliminary report makes a number of recommendations designed to facilitate the introduction of a computer science course for Leaving Cert.
The report also stresses the importance of teacher professional development in order to ensure the adoption, implementation and sustainability of a computer science curriculum.