The Foos Doesn't Just Teach Coding
April 18, 2018
We recently completed our first efficacy study with KnowProgress, a research firm focused on educational toys and apps. The study was designed to measure the effectiveness of The Foos in teaching computational thinking skills, building confidence in problem solving, and sparking interest in computer science as a career.
Almost 40 kids aged 5-8 at two sites (the Khan Lab Academy in Mountain View, CA and the Buchanan YMCA in San Francisco) participated in the study. The diversity of the two groups helped us measure the differences between kids who were more familiar with programming (21% had some experience with coding already) and those who did not.
After three weekly sessions totaling 90 minutes of gameplay, the results of the study were dramatic! Results showed that The Foos drove a significant increase in several key measures:
- The kids showed a 18%, 22%, and 3% increase in their accuracy rate on easy, moderate, and hard sequencing tasks respectively
- 52% showed an increased interest in programming computers as a job when they grow up
- 37% showed an increased interest in programming iPad or computer games when they grow up
- 93% thought The Foos was "the best game ever" and 96% would recommend the game to a friend.
- And our favorite… 56% showed an increase in confidence in their ability to problem solve
What does this mean for us (and coding in general)?
The study reinforces the idea that codeSpark is on the right track The Foos and teaching children to code. In our opinion the data also makes a strong case for introducing computer science to elementary school classrooms, especially if it can be presented in an engaging way.
Increased confidence and persistence in problem solving are important life skills in general: confidence breeds the courage necessary to try new things and persistence leads to the discovery of innovative solutions. Coding, where half the battle is figuring out how to properly write and execute instructions and the other half is figuring out where you went wrong, is a perfect way to learn these skills.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that kids found The Foos fun, even if they knew that they were supposed to learn. "I'm learning programming but it doesn't look like it...it looks like a fun game to play," says Anya, a 6 year old from the study. Learning can and should be fun, something that most coding resources currently lack.
The study also showed that kids from diverse backgrounds are able to learn and understand the basics of computer science equally well. In addition, we saw that girls get just as excited about coding and are just as good at it as the boys. One girl even cheered and made up a celebratory rap about completing a level. When’s the last time you saw a child get that excited about learning!? The study of computer science leads to broad based benefits and sharpens critical thinking skills. It just needs to be taught in a way that's fun, approachable and intuitive. So why not make a game out of it?