June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.302.1 - 15.302.20
Computational thinking: What should our students know and be able to do? Abstract
A NSF funded project on our campus has two overarching goals: (1) to create a computational thinking thread in engineering programs that spans from the freshman to senior years and bridges the divide between freshman year computing and computing in upper-level classes, and (2) to enable students to take computing competencies to the next level, where they are able to perform high-level computing tasks within the context of a discipline.
To achieve the goals of the project, faculty fellows from different engineering departments participate in a series of seminars relating to computational thinking that are held over the duration of a semester. The faculty fellows also undertake action research projects in their classrooms as they redesign course curricula to integrate computational thinking skills. In order to build relevant curricula and to offer appropriate faculty development sessions, it was first necessary to identify what computational skills and competencies different engineering industries expect of graduates as they enter the workforce and in their first years on the job. This presentation will share the results of the data collection and analysis effort centered on identifying these criteria.
The starting point for identifying industry needs was a workshop held with a panel of industry representatives. Based on the results of the industry workshop, a model of computational capabilities emerged that articulated different levels of computational ability in a problem solving context. Using this framework, a Delphi process was employed to survey a group of practicing engineers employed by companies hiring graduates from our university, to gain consensus about desired computational skills and competencies. In the first round of the Delphi, six open-ended questions were posed. Preliminary versions of the questions were piloted at the industry panel workshop and refined based on the framework for use in the Delphi study. The open-ended responses were coded by three researchers independently and then collectively developed into a consensus coding scheme. The resulting coded responses clustered into five main themes, with interrelationships established between primary themes and subthemes. Using these themes, the second round Delphi survey was developed requesting the same employers to rate the importance of computational skills on a 5-point scale from 'not important' to 'very important'.
In addition to presenting results of both rounds of the Delphi study and the model of computational abilities, we will present the pre- and post-course student survey results conducted in classes where curriculum changes have been piloted based on this model of computational thinking. The purpose of the student surveys was to find out if changes in the courses reflected the computational skills highlighted by industry representatives as essential skills for graduates to possess.
Finally, we will present recommendations for larger scale curricular changes in the different engineering disciplines based on the findings from this study.
Raubenheimer, D., & Wiebe, E., & Ho, C. (2010, June), Computational Thinking: What Should Our Students Know And Be Able To Do? Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15877
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