How broad is computational thinking? A longitudinal study of practices shaping computer science learning

Computer science is becoming a mainstream school subject, yet we know relatively little about teaching, learning, and assessing computer science at the primary and secondary level. Few studies have followed the long-term trajectories of early computer science learners. We present a longitudinal study of a school cohort (N=48) across a three-year computer science curriculum in grades 6-8. We analyzed students' Scratch projects in terms of elaboration and computational thinking content, and modeled their association with performance on a summative open-ended assessment of computational thinking. Both metrics were associated with performance on the summative task, but engagement had a much more substantial effect. This supports the idea that early computer science experience should be designed to support students in working on personally-meaningful projects. Developing computational literacy practices may be more important for long-term growth in computational thinking than a primary emphasis on content knowledge.

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APA

Proctor, C., & Blikstein, P. (2018). How broad is computational thinking? A longitudinal study of practices shaping computer science learning. In J. Kay & R. Luckin (Eds.). Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age: Making the Learning Sciences Count, 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2018. (pp. 544-551). London, UK: ISLS.

Bibtex

@inproceedings{proctor2018,
  title = {How {{Broad}} Is {{Computational Thinking}}? {{A Longitudinal Study}} of {{Practices Shaping Learning}} in {{Computer Science}}},
  booktitle = {Rethinking {{Learning}} in the {{Digital Age}}. {{Making}} the {{Learning Sciences Count}}},
  author = {Proctor, Chris and Blikstein, Paulo},
  editor = {Kay, Judy and Luckin, Rosemary},
  year = {2018},
  month = jun,
  volume = {3},
  pages = {544--551},
  publisher = {{International Society of the Learning Sciences}},
  address = {{London, UK}},
  abstract = {Computer science is becoming a mainstream school subject, yet we know relatively little about teaching, learning, and assessing computer science at the primary and secondary level. Few studies have followed the long-term trajectories of early computer science learners. We present a longitudinal study of a school cohort (N=48) across a three-year computer science curriculum in grades 6-8. We analyzed students' Scratch projects in terms of elaboration and computational thinking content, and modeled their association with performance on a summative open-ended assessment of computational thinking. Both metrics were associated with performance on the summative task, but engagement had a much more substantial effect. This supports the idea that early computer science experience should be designed to support students in working on personally-meaningful projects. Developing computational literacy practices may be more important for long-term growth in computational thinking than a primary emphasis on content knowledge.},
  langid = {english}
}