Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Grover and Pea review what has been done and what is lacking in CT K-12 education. A need for CT education has been articulated and somewhat accepted, meaning that they know what aspects of computer-related education are most important for K-12 education. Research is needed on how students best learn CT (i.e. pedagogical content knowledge in CT.) They posed many questions including where in the curriculum it would fall, who would teach it, whether it would be integrated with other courses or stand alone.

Sengupta et al described a specific means for incorporating CT in the K-12 science classroom. They proposed the integration of core science courses and CT, noting the similarities in thinking, problem solving and most importantly modeling. They then proposed many details on specifically what types of programs are best for K-12 education and why. Finally, they presented a study that showed content knowledge gains in the core sciences through using CT.

Both articles stressed the importance of computational thinking, not computer programming specifically. I find this important because the kind of thinking described in the articles in very transferable. While computers are ubiquitous in society, not all people need to be skilled programmers.
My concern with the push for CT in all science classrooms is twofold. First, it requires students to be in a computer lab for class. Most schools only have a few computer labs, and it could be very difficult for many teachers to try to implement CT in their curriculum simultaneously.
Second, I do not think that there is a qualified teacher force to implement these ideas. The research presented showed that students learn best when they are taught one-on-one from a professional researcher, and that without these added scaffolds, improvements in disciplinary gains are very small. Teachers would need to be trained significantly on CT for it to ever enter the science curriculum.
These papers made me realize that I should probably have taken some kind of computer science course. I felt very lost in the academic language at times. I also know that I am completely unqualified to teach CT. I know that to be able to implement it will require significant professional development.


  1. What about computational thinking is transferable to other areas? If computational thinking is so well transferable how is there not a greater push to implement it into the curriculum? It is agreed that schools have few computer labs to share amongst the school, but how could schools better manage their time and space for their students? If there is not a qualified teacher force to implement the ideas for computational thinking, why is there not a greater push to make teachers qualified in this area? You say that you would have benefited from a computer science course; wouldn’t all students benefit from a computer science class? Couldn’t teachers be trained to scaffold a larger class possibly in a computer lab of a large number of computers?

  2. David I think thats the crux of what these authors are trying to say, that it is transferrable and needs to be implemented, i.e. you're looking at the push right now. In the case of science, computers can be a super helpful way to think about abstraction, modeling, and dynamics and computational thinking, if marketed well, can hopefully ride the coattails of the current push for modeling curriculum. Hannah I think its a little defeatist to point to these logistical concerns as major roadblocks. Many who have gained success through computational thinking are eager to give back to education (re: bill gates, mark zuckerberg, silicon valley tycoons with more money than places to put it) and I think could easily be convinced to fund things like laptop carts and teacher development. One of my close friends works for a start up in San Francisco that provides training for many levels of computer programing to teachers, and they are definitely not the only ones out there doing it. Just because you dont know much about computational thinking now doesn't mean that, under properly scaffolded instruction of course, you couldn't learn too!

  3. I hadn't thought about the computer lab situation, but I am sure the teachers could be friendly enough to work out a nice rotation so that there is at least some CT work occurring! Lack of school computer resources reminds me of a situation a teacher told me about once. Her school board decided to buy iPads for everyone to use in the classroom in hopes that it would give the students/the school an edge. Figuring in the costs of all those iPads, the school could have hired a new teacher. Which would have been a better use of the school's resources? (My insider knowledge told me that most of the students ended up playing games on their iPads instead of taking notes on them, as was intended.) What are the benefits for providing laptops/iPads to students? This takes away the issue of whether or not they could complete CT work at home, so it does seem like it could be a positive notion.


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