The micro:bit foundation present some research findings which look quite encouraging when it comes to using physical computing as an introduction to Computer Science here:
- 90% of students said the micro:bit showed them that anyone can code.
- 86% of students said the micro:bit made Computer Science more interesting.
- 70% more girls said they would choose Computing as a school subject after using the micro:bit.
- 85% of teachers agree it has made ICT/Computer Science more enjoyable for their students.
- Half of teachers who’ve used the micro:bit say they now feel more confident as a teacher, particularly those who say they’re not very confident in teaching Computing.
They also link to this Computer Science for innovators and Makers curriculum which links the following:
Female students, in particular, show greater understanding of computer science concepts when programs and code produce immediate, tangible results. The physical nature of making these interactive systems creates a meaningful and engaging learning experience that greatly increases engagement among girls in computer science education.
Although the 2nd reference may be independent, it's not easy to tell. Are there any other studies I can refer to? Looking particularly at benefits in engagement or diversity.
Although the first reference does indicate that teachers also found that using (or being trained to use) the micro:bit felt more confident, I intended to ask specifically about student engagement.