DOI: 10.1111/jcal.12964 ISSN: 0266-4909

‘Can I code?’ Exploring rural fifth‐grade girls' programming self‐efficacy and interest in a developing country

Yanjia Liu, Chao Qin, Hao He
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Education



The world is moving towards digitalization and intelligence. Programming has become an essential development competency. Even though many countries are currently making great efforts to expand programming education, the programming education in these countries shows an imbalance in geographical and gender dimensions. We found that few studies paid attention to rural girls' programming learning in developing countries.


This study focuses on programming learning among rural girls in a developing country (China) from an educational equity perspective. We investigated the level and the changes in these girls' self‐efficacy and interest in programming.


We conducted a three‐month (12‐week) semester of programming teaching for rural fifth‐grade girls. Two rounds of data collection were conducted at the mid‐semester (first‐measure) and the end of the semester (second‐measure), with semi‐structured interviews at the end of the semester.

Results and conclusions

The results showed that rural girls' programming self‐efficacy was at a moderate‐to‐high level and remained stable, but there were no gender differences in programming self‐efficacy between boys and girls in the second‐measure. Girls' self‐efficacy was positively correlated with interest, and programming education could help girls to increase their interest in programming, but boys and girls did not show gender differences in their programming interest in second‐measure. Interestingly, we found that girls' perceived programming knowledge acquisition was significantly higher than overall programming efficacy.


These findings provide meaningful implications for programming education in less developed areas and female early programming education.

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