June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Pre-College Engineering Education
Students are learning to interact with, design for, and sometimes even program computers at earlier and earlier ages. Teachers and researchers can relatively easily measure progress in learning programming tasks, but assessing conceptual understanding of computation, particularly when programming tasks are not present, is less defined or non-existent. Computational Thinking (CT) generally refers to knowledge and skills apart from, and possibly a precursor to, the ability to write computer programs, yet is commonly measured through the quality of programming. Are there ways of qualifying CT ‘maturity’ outside of programming tasks? This study looks at the intersection of CT and CS in very young learners who are developing computational solutions involving literacy tasks. Students retell a story by animating characters in Scratch Jr. by breaking down the story, creating an animation storyboard, and finally implementing the plan in Scratch Jr.. For most of the participants this is their first time using Scratch Jr. or any programming language. Therefore, their early experience with technology means they are working on analysis of a story using literacy skills, considering a visual representation of the story, and learning how to realize the expression of the storyline using a computer language. To better understand the general concept of CT, we analyzed video data of the students building their animated story, along with the artifacts of design and code. This qualitative data provides indicators of how their thinking progresses from little to at least working knowledge of writing a program. Using qualitative analysis we evaluate how their initial design evolves, simplifies, or otherwise changes as the novices move from general problem solving to creating a computational solution. CT seems to be a specialized version of design and engineering design in general. Understanding how these very young learners move from generally approaching a problem to a computational solution may give insight to how CT matures and the role of programming in that maturity. By capturing how a design changes, we can suggest how CT can be ‘seen’ in artifacts produced that are not programming code. The goal is to find markers of CT in design and language that transcends specific programmed implementations.
Lowe, T. A., & Brophy, S. P. (2019, June), Identifying Computational Thinking in Storytelling Literacy Activities with Scratch Jr. Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32913
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