An evaluation of introductory programming courses for noncomputing students in Higher Education highlighted the struggle of non-specialists in engaging with complex computing concepts, often leading them to feel overwhelmed and frustrated when engaging in introductory programming education.

Physical computing devices such as Raspberry Pis, and 3D printing are ideally positioned to support HE students in the development of their computational and engineering knowledge, as they have the ability to transpose abstract algorithms and computing knowledge into the real world. Additionally, 3D printing is a vital prototyping technology in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. However, opportunities to experience physical computing in HE are limited, particularly in subjects outside of fields of computing or electrical/electronic engineering, such as chemical and civil engineering, chemistry and biology.


In a collaboration between researchers from Open Lab, the Intelligent Sensing Lab and Process Intensification Group, we seek to understand how physical computing activities can support Higher Education STEM students to develop digital competencies skills. We also plan to provide guidance on how physical computing activities can be integrated into Higher Education engineering curricula to improve student learning and engagement.


The wide availability and accessibility of personal digital technologies offers students in schools and universities the opportunity to learn through the creation of their own digital artefacts. Also, the uptake of peer-learning is continuing to grow and transform in the classroom. This paper presents an innovative pedagogical approach underpinned by the learning-by-making, peer-learning and flipped classroom pedagogies.