Dr Errol Thompson

Errol Thompson

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My focus is on improving learning in relation to computational thinking, learning to programming, software testing, peace building and economic thinking. The basis of this work is built on educational theory especially the use of variation theory to assist learners to understand threshold or core concepts thus enabling them to see the subject in new ways. I am looking at ways of using learning technologies to support this model of learning and conceptual change.

All of my research is aimed at bringing change to the way my learners think and understand the subject. It is driven by a desire for a society that is just, encourages equality, and meets the needs of all things on this planet.

Research interests

  • Fostering conceptual change and understanding of threshold concepts utilising variation theory. Areas of interest include economics, peace building, computational problem solving, and programming.
  • Use of games to enable people to explore alternative economic strategies and computational thinking principles. In this context I am influenced by the principles of shalom (wholeness for all of creation).
  • The application of variation theory to the planning of learning opportunities, the assessment of teaching strategies, and the assessment of student learning.
  • The exploration of the utilisation of models for evaluating learning and promoting self evaluation by learners.
  • Scenario-based learning, and game technologies for learning. The implementation of a scenario-based learning environment for the teaching of programming.
  • Tools to visualise software execution with the initial focus on the object-oriented paradigm and the visualisation of program objects and interaction between object in a 3D context.

Teaching Activity

  • CS1020 - Java Programming Foundations
  • CS1320 - Problem Solving
  • DC1320 - Problem Solving
  • CS3270 - Testing and Reliable Software Engineering
  • DC3270 - Testing and Reliable Software Engineering
  • CS4820 - Reliability in Software Engineering
  • CS3010 - Supervising Final Year Projects


  • BSc in Computer Science, University of Canterbury, NZ, 1975
  • MSc in Computer Science, University of Canterbury, NZ, 1980
  • PhD in Education, Massey University, NZ, 2009

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Association of Computing Machinery
  • European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI)
  1. Teaching computational reasoning through construals

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. What can practitioner perceptions tell us about our subject?

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

  3. Reflective journals: can they be used to identify struggling students?

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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