Student Papers  |  ,   |  December 5, 2020

A Comparative Study on Artificial Intelligence Curricula

Master’s thesis by Li Li. The University of Western Ontario, MA in Education.

Summary for Lay Audience:

This research is a comparative analysis of four K-12 AI curricula to recognize and interpret their basic elements and pedagogical approaches. Guided by (socio) constructivist and constructionist theories as the theoretical framework, qualitative document analysis is applied as the research methodology. Schwab’s four commonplaces serve as the initial analytical framework. A (socio) constructivism and constructionism lens is used to compare the curricula. The major findings are:

  1. The four curricula converge and diverge in their basic elements. First, the curricula form Canada and India emphasize technical subject matters, while the curriculum from the US stresses social and ethical aspects. The curriculum from the UK covers the widest and most balanced range of subject matters. Second, all four curricula are student-centered. The curriculum from the US offers the students the greatest opportunities to learn by doing; the curriculum from Canada offers the teacher the greatest pedagogical freedom. Last, the curriculum from Canada stresses social environment while the curriculum from the UK stresses teaching tools and materials as their milieux.
  2. The four curricula apply, to different extent, student-centered (socio) constructivist and constructionist pedagogical approaches, such as project-based learning, activity-based learning, inquiry-based learning, cooperative learning, and experimental learning. The curriculum from the US fits best for constructionism, while the curriculum from India is most inclined to use traditional approaches with an emphasis on programming.

These AI curricula provide educators and researchers meaningful and valuable examples to use, study and learn from. This study is significant in that it can form part of the existing evidence about interpreting AI educational practices to educational researchers and practitioners in AI curriculum study and design. Also, this study will be valuable to governments in educational policymaking as it provides a comparative analysis of current K-12 AI curriculum.

Curricula Compared