Disinterested Students


Many of us have students who ask, “Why do I have to take this class?” or say, “I didn’t choose this class!” For those students, allowing them to see success may open new doors for them.
If we can get them past how hard it is, we can help them embrace their own interests and creativity.
If all else fails, let them brainstorm how to get out of work and create an app or website to help others do it as well.

#UTDallas - North Texas Regional Workshop” “#Mike’sHoustonAssist!”


I have several of these students. Computer science is part of their enrichment wheel and they were expecting free play all the time rather than learning computer science concepts. Fortunately, I get to start a new group off for second quarter and I’m hoping that finding more activities that demonstrate the rationale for computer science (field trips, guest speakers, videos, etc.) might be helpful. I plan to set up the this quarter differently than I did first…


Not Interested Student - Programming Levels

–What are the challenges the student would experience during this activity?
Students don’t want to work, they want free period.
Students think it is not cool
Fall behind because they didn’t put in the grunt work at the beginning.
Students don’t put in the work because they feel limited on what they will be able to make.

–What are strategies you could use to support the student?
Hook these students with the end result like showing well designed websites or javascript games before you start a unit.
Relationship with student

–Are there resources you could provide the student?
Code.org gallery of games and websites

Not Interested Student - Group Work

–What are the challenges the student would experience during this activity?
Not participating or contributing to the group

–What are strategies you could use to support the student?
Celebrate small victories

–Are there resources you could provide the student?
Use videos from basketball, music artists, etc.


I always try to connect to something that the student does find interesting such as sports, video games or music and then let them do their projects based on that topic.


It may help to have students set CS goals at the beginning. What do they want to get better at or to learn in the class. If students aren’t allowed to say that they don’t want to learn anything, they may give you ideas for things to focus on during the class and ideas for steps to celebrate as a class.


Sometimes I find that allowing students to pair program on the interactive whiteboard in front of the class makes it more exciting for them.


I really like @amazur1’s suggestion. The student may not realize that his/her interests and computer science overlap. Since so much of our world is digital, there are a lot of opportunities to connect computer science to real life.
For my students who are disinterested, I try to connect to something they care about. We create websites about whatever you love. We make a game about whatever you want. We design an app for whomever you care about.


I love the whiteboard idea! I’ve used them for unplugged activities but am now thinking of having a student show how they solved a puzzle on the whiteboard. Lori, Longmeadow, MA


Many times, girls are not interested in technology. They may not have examples of how they can fit into this world. I think it may be helpful for students to link career pathways to Computer Science through videos. Youtube has many short videos on women in technology, as well as how people have connected their varying interests to Computer Science. For example, here is a link to a video from Women in Tech - Vol 1 in a series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN9AAzpTdA8 . Showing quick videos like this help build a bridge to personal interests integrated with technology.


I agree with “embrace interests and creativity”. With the paired programming model, we can allow the students to support each other and dig into their interests and create their own reason to “be in the class”.

Also, incorporating outside activities and speakers who use this can generate the need for this course.


Develop a strategy to challenge the students to think about what they want from life and how this information will help them acieve their goals.


Many of the students did expect Coding.Org to be just developing games or hacking when they signed up for the class. I made sure to explain the purpose of the course and expectations. I also tried to explain how the content they would learn would be relevant to what they were expecting to learn in the course. We also took a field trip to a local college that offered a Computer Science degree and had them explain the relevance and importance of the content they would be learning to game development, robotics and hacking.