Is learning computer science linked to improved learning in other subjects?
Many passionate computer science educators believe computational thinking, problem solving, persistence and analysis learned in computer science helps students do better in other courses, especially math.
So we asked the College Board for more evidence. For example, if students perform at a similar level in math when they take the SAT, then some of them take AP Computer Science while others do not, is there a difference in their math performance later when the whole group takes the AP Calculus exam?
There’s a clear correlation
According to College Board data, students who take the AP Computer Science exam earn higher AP Calculus and Statistics scores relative to peers who previously performed at a similar level in math.
Relationship between taking AP Computer Science and subsequent scores on AP mathematics exams
Note, these results show correlation, not causality. A boost in math scores may be caused by many different factors, but at Code.org, we’re encouraged by these findings!
Other third parties have shown similar exciting results in middle school. For example, a study conducted by our partner Globaloria linked participation in CS courses to significant gains on standardized tests of math and reading in low-income middle school classrooms. An analysis by our partners at Bootstrap revealed the challenges of showing direct correlation, but did demonstrate that students who completed the Bootstrap curriculum (which incorporates computer science into an algebra class) showed some gains in understanding of mathematical concepts such as functional application and composition.
All in all, there are promising signs. We hope to see more research to come.
CS educators, join us in discussing these results and your own observations and research in the CS Education Discussion Forum on Facebook.