Asee peer logo

Building Computational Thinking Skills Using Robots With First-Year Engineering Students

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 7: Experiential Learning

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Sarah B. Lee Mississippi State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Sarah B. Lee is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at Mississippi State University and is a Gender Studies faculty affiliate. She received her BS from the Mississippi University for Women, a Master’s degree in Computer Science at Mississippi State University, and her PhD in Computer Science at the University of Memphis. She brings software development and project management experience to the classroom from her career in industry. Her research interests include interdisciplinary project and team-based learning to promote gender equality in digital literacy and human and social aspects of software engineering.

visit author page


Hunter Lovvorn Mississippi State University

visit author page

Hunter Lovvorn is a Teaching Assistant at Mississippi State University where he is pursuing a master's degree in Computer Science with an emphasis in computer security.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This research paper describes the transition of content in a first year experience (FYE) course at Mississippi State University (MSU) for computer science (CS) and software engineering (SE) majors to a project-based, hands-on approach to building skills in computational thinking and teamwork. While critical thinking ability and the dynamics of working in a team have been emphasized in the class through individual and team-based assignments previously, the use of technology has been limited.

Recent experience with a summer outreach program for middle and high school students suggests that students build confidence in problem solving by using a simple programming language with robotic concepts.1 Building off of this experience, students in this first year engineering course were introduced to programming with a “drag and drop” interface and a robot. Teams were challenged to explore the robot’s capabilities and brainstorm a project idea to design and implement. This project-based approach was expected to demonstrate an increased confidence in applying computing and technology among first semester students. Results of this first implementation are presented.

Lee, S. B., & Lovvorn, H. (2016, June), Building Computational Thinking Skills Using Robots With First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26409

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015