University of Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 2043-2050
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.1440
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
A review of visual and performing arts, design and architecture undergraduate programmes offered by Portuguese public higher education institutions found out that 50 out of the 105 such programmes include at least one unit in which computer programming is included in the syllabus. About half of the students enrolled in those programmes have an opportunity to learn to code, either in an elective unit or by meeting the subject as part of their compulsory curricula. There is, however, a gap in scholarship about the use and acceptance of computer programming by educators in higher arts and design education that we wish to address through our research.

A survey instrument based on The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), which has a recent but rich history in education research, was applied to an opportunity sample of professors and instructors presently teaching at visual arts, music, design and architecture undergraduate programmes in both public universities and polytechnic institutes. Out of 68 responses, 43 educators reported no knowledge of how to code and 25 reported computer programming proficiency, of which 14 reported a present engagement in teaching at least one class to code. A noticeable gender disparity was found regarding programming proficiency among the participants, as only 4 out of 23 female educators reported to know how to code. According to bivariate analysis, older participants were also less likely to know how to code.

Computer programming proficiency was found to correlate with constructs in the UTAUT model. Proficient educators were more likely to ascribe more utility and lesser effort to computer programming. Furthermore, younger educators in this set were found to expect greater utility from the activity, while lesser teaching experience was found to correlate with more positive opinions regarding the facilitating conditions provided by institutions. Participants were also asked to comment on the relevance of computer programming in art and design education, and their answers reflected two major perspectives: while some stressed that coding is both a fundamental problem-solving tool as well as a didactic tool to teach logical thinking, others highlighted the expressive potential of computer programming applied to artistic creation.

The gender disparity among educators with programming proficiency probably stems from the historical gender imbalance among students at computer science and engineering programmes, where 16 of the educators reported to have done their training. It can be discussed whether these disparities will perpetuate the notion of programming as a ‘male subject’, leading to greater anxiety about coding and learning to code among female students, as found in our related studies. The apparent existence of two major perspectives on programming within arts and design education also warrants deeper analysis. Given the current push to demystify computer programming, of which its common inclusion in arts and design curricula is already a part, it is hoped this study encourages institutional actors and researchers to further the knowledge on the subject through thorough practice characterization case-studies and a deeper understanding of technology acceptance models applied in higher arts and design education.
Higher education, arts education, design education, utaut model, technology acceptance, computer programming, creative code, educator survey.