July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Pre-College Engineering Education
Computational thinking (CT) is important for students to learn in order to be ready for many STEM careers. Within a movement towards introducing students to earlier in their learning, many states have started adding CT to standards. There is still much to learn about how students navigate the process of learning to think computationally - especially at early grades. In this study, we implemented a computational device/game called the Code n Go Robot Mouse by Learning Resources with 18 first grade students in an inner-city elementary school with a Title 1 classification. The research question we are answering is: What evidence of CT competencies do students demonstrate when engaging in activities with the Code n Go Robot Mouse game? We used a variety of methods to collect the data in this study. All students were following the game as intended in small groups. For this part of the study, we used naturalistic inquiry to see what the children naturally did as they engaged in the game with their small groups. We collected audio, video, and image data of the students while playing the game. While students were playing the game, we also set up stations around the room with 2 different contrived tasks to more directly assess CT - particularly debugging and playing the game without the physical course. For the “debugging” task, students were given a set of moves that the robot mouse would take with the goal of getting to the cheese. These steps had errors in them. The students were asked to correct these errors. For the “playing the game without the physical course” task, students were given a map of the course and the mouse and asked to program the mouse to get to the cheese using the map only. Then the students were allowed to test their code on the physical course (which had been hidden from them). For both of these tasks, students were pulled out individually to work through the tasks. For these, we conducted task-based interviews with the students to complete the task at hand. Here we also collected video and audio data. To analyze the data, we used a priori coding with the CT competencies: algorithms and procedures, abstraction, data analysis, data collection, data representation, automation, pattern recognition, decomposition. This work-in-progress will provide examples of how students engage in each of the CT competencies and identify any that did not show up in our data. For example, we saw students engaging in pattern recognition as they moved through levels of the game. When they saw the same pattern in the course, they often stated that the course was like the last one and then coded that part of the new course easily the second time around. The findings from this research as it is completed will provide more information about how young students negotiate meaning with CT objects. These findings will be useful for teachers, curriculum developers, researchers, and policymakers as CT continues to be implemented in the early grades.
Fagundes, B., & Bhide, N., & Moore, T. J., & Tank, K. M. (2021, July), Computational Thinking in First-Grade Students Using a Computational Device (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36825
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