Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Computational Thinking

                Sengupta et al’s article sought to describe computational thinking as a scientific process that also involves inquiry and problem solving. Computational thinking was also described as a science as a practice theory, which includes modeling and representational forms. The article placed computational thinking into science and math standards, citing that their similar cognitive processes for reasoning.
                Grover and Pea’s article described computational thinking as information processing so that a solution may be sought out by a processing agent or through a set of instructions. The National Science Foundation has listed seven big ideas for computational thinking. The last big idea says that computing enables innovation in other fields or subject areas. Effective pedagogical approaches to computational thinking are still being developed; curriculum and assessment are still being developed.

                Between both articles computational thinking was described as a thought process that describes problems such that they may be solved simplistically, such as by an algorithm. Computational thinking should be described as a science as it involves inquiry and creation of ideas and artifacts. Also, both articles ask important questions such as what is the best pedagogical approach to computational thinking and how can instructors scaffold computer science so that the content is challenging for students with little to large background knowledge. Both articles agree that pedagogical approaches to computational thinking are still being developed and that the most effective ways are still yet to be sought out. Computational thinking has a great importance in how frequently technology is used currently. Both articles stressed the importance of preparing students to be problem solvers; computational thinking develops this skill set as a science.


  1. Interesting thoughts, David. How do you think school systems would attempt to scaffold CT? I don't think that elementary aged students could get very in depth with computer science, but that age would be great for learning all the fundamentals. For instance, I remember taking computer class starting in 1st grade and using Mavis to learn how to type, the whole asdf jkl; has been engrained in my brain forever. There were fun computer games we played that actually were secretly improving our accuracy and speed, so it would be cool to see more advanced versions of those games maybe teaching middle schoolers how to code.

    1. I know that there are a lot of programs now that make coding visual (like the ones talked about in the articles), virtually eliminating all of the hassle of learning syntax and typing. I'm not sure when those would be best introduced, but I can't see why the specific kind of logical thinking/problem solving required by programming and computation couldn't be taught to elementary age children. I remember in some of my computer science classes here at Vandy, writing programs that would solve mazes or hide secret messages in song files. We wrote those with Java and C++, but using something like Scratch would also be super cool and easy to do.

      And David, I think it's interesting how you talk about CT needing to be addressed as a science. I'm kinda confused about the difference between computational thinking and computer science, I suppose. It seems like there's a fair amount of mutability between sets of scientific practice and core ideas, and I think that CT definitely belongs in that grey area because it has its own thought habits and problem-solving practices, and it has core ideas or constructs (ideas like encapsulation and polymorphism, and constructs like iterative loops and conditional logic).

    2. Isn't computer science simply an application of computational thinking. I have no experience with either computer science or computational thinking, outside of math applications. Because of the little knowledge I have about the subject I don't really even know what learning or teaching it would entail. I would not feel comfortable in my ability to teach engineering or computational thinking standards. I have no knowledge of the subject and thus would have little knowledge in how it is learned or how to teach it.


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