Why Teach Computational Thinking?

This summer I am taking EDU 392 Methods of Teaching Computer Science, and hoping to share my thoughts and work here on the blog.

By way of introduction, I have always worked on the pedagogy/andragogy side of leveraging technology for teaching and learning.  I have far less experience with computer science as a student myself, or as a teacher.

Focus on Practice

However, as someone who enjoys thinking about what is ‘next’ in education, and the parent of a young child who love learning computational thinking, I am eager to begin thinking about how we might design new learning experiences.  I am excited about the trend in K-12 for leaders in the various fields to focus not only on content, but also on practices of the various disciplines.  These practices can be seen in the process standards in math education or the science practices that are embedded in the NGSS.

I agreed with Barr and Stephenson (2011) who said computational thinking

“is an approach to solving problems in a way that can be implemented with a computer. Students become not merely tool users but tool builders. They use a set of concepts, such as abstraction, recursion, and iteration, to process and analyze data, and to create real and virtual artifacts. CT is a problem solving methodology that can be automated and transferred and applied across subjects” (p.51).

For me I am eager to learn more, and advocate for, computational thinking as a set of practices we help out K-12 students become fluent with.

Focus on Equity & Inquiry

Additionally for me, I enjoyed the readings this week, and the fact that this work needs to be situated in culturally relevant and inclusive instructional practices if we are to help students become computational thinkers.  I was struck by Margolis et al (2012) who stated,

“the content rigor and engagement must be carried by the instructional pedagogy, and this is why inquiry based instruction is at the heart of the ECS program”(p. 75).

I could not agree more that our work in this domain should be based in inquiry.

I look forward to this course.

References

Barr, V., & Stephenson, C. (2011). Bringing computational thinking to K-12: What is involved and what is the role of the computer science education community? ACM Inroads, 2(1), 48–54. https://doi.org/10.1145/1929887.1929905

Margolis, J., Ryoo, J. J., Sandoval, C. D. M., Lee, C., Goode, J., & Chapman, G. (2012). Beyond access: Broadening participation in high school computer science. ACM Inroads, 3(4), 72–78. https://doi.org/10.1145/2381083.2381102

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