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WIP: First-graders’ Computational Thinking in Informal Learning Settings

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 9

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

7

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35541

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35541

Download Count

73

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Paper Authors

biography

Barbara Fagundes Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Barbara Fagundes is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Engineering Education Department at Purdue University. Her doctoral research interests involve representation of woman in the STEM field, k-12 engineering education and computational thinking.

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Hoda Ehsan Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3681-317X

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Hoda is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education, Purdue. She received her B.S. in mechanical engineering in Iran, and obtained her M.S. in Childhood Education and New York teaching certification from City College of New York (CUNY-CCNY). She is now a graduate research assistant on STEM+C project. Her research interests include designing informal setting for engineering learning, and promoting engineering thinking in differently abled students in informal and formal settings.

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Tamara J. Moore Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7956-4479

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Tamara J. Moore, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education and Director of STEM Integration in the INSPIRE Institute at Purdue University. Dr. Moore’s research is centered on the integration of STEM concepts in K-12 and postsecondary classrooms in order to help students make connections among the STEM disciplines and achieve deep understanding. Her work focuses on defining STEM integration and investigating its power for student learning. Tamara Moore received an NSF Early CAREER award in 2010 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2012.

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Kristina Maruyama Tank Iowa State University

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Kristina M. Tank is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the School of Education at Iowa State University. She currently teaches undergraduate courses in science education for elementary education majors. As a former elementary teacher, her research and teaching interests are centered around improving elementary students’ science and engineering learning and increasing teachers’ use of effective STEM instruction in the elementary grades. With the increased emphasis on improved teaching and learning of STEM disciplines in K-12 classrooms, Tank examines how to better support and prepare pre-service and in-service teachers to meet the challenge of integrating STEM disciplines in a manner that supports teaching and learning across multiple disciplines. More recently, her research has focused on using literacy to support scientific inquiry, engineering design, and STEM integration.

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Monica E. Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4229-6183

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Monica E. Cardella is a Program Director with the Division of Research on Learning at the National Science Foundation. She is also a Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

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Abstract

Engineering has been integrated into K-12 learning experiences in both formal and informal settings. More recently, computational thinking (CT) has gained increased attention as an important learning outcome in K-12 settings and in engineering education. CT is a thinking process that is broader than programming and coding, and a necessary skill for every citizen to be prepared for careers in the 21st century. Additionally, CT has been described as crucial to engineering problem-solving and critical to the development of engineering habits of mind, such as systems thinking. However, not many studies have explored how children exhibit computational thinking. From this starting point, this study aims to contribute to the current body of knowledge on CT and young learners by examining children’s engagement in CT during participation in engineering and computing activities.

This study was conducted with first-grade students during a field trip to a small science center in the Midwestern, U.S. The field trip was designed to engage the children in a range of low-tech to high-tech engineering and computing activities. The activities included solving an open-ended engineering design problem by coding a developmentally appropriate robot, interacting with an engineering and CT exhibit that asked students to work on a set of problems involving, for example, building a puppy playground utilizing big blue blocks where they follow a given problem, and playing with a coding game where students code through interactive puzzles. The research question that we aim to answer is, What does children’s engagement in computational thinking competencies look like when solving different engineering and computing problems?

Twenty-one children from that first-grade class participated in this informal learning experience. However, for this work in progress, we were interested in examining children’s engagement with various CT tasks. Therefore, we conducted a case study of one group of four children that allowed us to followed a subset of students across the three activities. Using a video-analysis method, we are analyzing 60 minutes of video-recordings of this group participating in all three activities. Data analysis is still in process, but the preliminary findings indicate that during participation in the different activities, there is evidence of children engaging in seven different CT competencies including, abstraction, patterning, problem decomposition, debugging, and troubleshooting, algorithm, and procedures, use of data and simulation. When looking across the three activities, student engagement in these same competencies looked different, based on the nature of the activity. The details of the findings will be discussed in the paper.

Fagundes, B., & Ehsan, H., & Moore, T. J., & Tank, K. M., & Cardella, M. E. (2020, June), WIP: First-graders’ Computational Thinking in Informal Learning Settings Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35541

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