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Exploring the field of Computational Thinking as a 21st Century Skill

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Exploring the field of Computational Thinking as a 21st Century Skill

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Virtual presentation at EDULEARN16 Conference of preliminary results of the CompuThink study designed and funded by the EC JRC-IPTS. CompuThink aims at carrying out a desk investigation to draw a comprehensive overview of recent findings produced by academic research, grassroots initiatives and policy actions addressing the development of computational thinking in primary and secondary schools, as well as to highlight major implications for policy and practice.

Virtual presentation at EDULEARN16 Conference of preliminary results of the CompuThink study designed and funded by the EC JRC-IPTS. CompuThink aims at carrying out a desk investigation to draw a comprehensive overview of recent findings produced by academic research, grassroots initiatives and policy actions addressing the development of computational thinking in primary and secondary schools, as well as to highlight major implications for policy and practice.

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Exploring the field of Computational Thinking as a 21st Century Skill

  1. 1. Exploring the Field of COMPUTATIONAL THINKING as a 21st Century Skill S. Bocconi, A. Chioccariello, G. Dettori Institute for Educational Technology, CNR (ITALY) A. Ferrari, K. Engelhardt European Schoolnet (BELGIUM) P. Kampylis, Y. Punie JRC - IPTS, European Commission (SPAIN) 8th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies. Barcelona (SP), 4th - 6th of July, 2016 European Commission JRC-IPTS
  2. 2. SETTING THE SCENE • The phrase Computational Thinking (CT) was used first by J.Wing (2006) to mean “thinking as a computer scientist” => using an analytic and algorithmic approach to formulate, analyse and solve problems • Wing claimed that CT is a fundamental skill for everyone => “To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability” • After 10 years  over 600 academic and grey documents, many initiatives related to CT BUT  limited introduction in school curricula and practice 2/17
  3. 3. 3/17 OPEN ISSUES AND CHALLENGES • Is it possible to define CT as a key skill for the current century? • What are its characterizing features? • What are its relation to programming and computer science, on the one side, and to digital literacy, on the other? • Should CT be included in compulsory education? • How should CT skills be assessed? • How should teachers be prepared to best integrate CT into their teaching? We present initial results of an exploratory study aiming to contribute to answering such questions and developing the field: CompuThink - An analysis of educational approaches to developing Computational Thinking
  4. 4. 4/17 THE COMPUTHINK STUDY Scope: To provide a comprehensive overview of recent research findings, grassroots and policy initiatives for developing CT as a 21st century skill among primary and secondary students Expected Results: • An extensive review of existing literature on the development of CT in compulsory education settings and on ongoing policy and grassroots initiatives to develop CT skills among primary & secondary students • Interviews with policy makers, experts and stakeholders involved in the design, implementation and/or evaluation of relevant policy and grassroots initiatives • A final report summarizing research findings on the impact of CT on learning and teaching patterns, approaches and paradigms in primary and secondary schools in Europe Duration: December 2015 – September 2016
  5. 5. 5/17 OVERALL STRUCTURE OF COMPUTHINK
  6. 6. 6/17 THE LITERATURE REVIEW It is based on a structured approach to locate, review, categorize and represent information • strategic search on a wide range of sources  portals (Scopus, Science Direct, Scholar, Web of Science, ACM DL, SpringerLink, etc.), with a combination of several keywords  snowballing  repositories and blogs for grey literature  online courses and MOOCs  policy documents and curricula  grassroots initiatives • literature processing  preceded by a phase of inter-rater agreement, for consistent execution  two review matrices, for conceptual studies and implementations  documents divided into Highly Relevant, Relevant, Connected and Peripheral • tag-and-map representation  to provide a visual representation of key notions and their relations  as a help to identify overlaps, patterns and possible contradictions
  7. 7. 7/17 SCHEMA OF COMPUTHINK REVIEW PROCESS
  8. 8. 8/17 DOCUMENTS’ DISTRIBUTION BY TYPE [1/2] • We identified 569 documents of various nature, among which 361 of academic litarature (63%), including the following types 10 38 158 107 41 7 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 BOOKS BOOK CHAPTERS CONFERENCE PAPERS JOURNAL ARTICLES MAGAZINE ARTICLES THESIS Distribution by type (academic literature)
  9. 9. 9/17 DOCUMENTS’ DISTRIBUTION BY TYPE [2/2] • The grey literature (reports, newspapers’ articles, blog posts, videos, OERs, MOOCs, curricula, etc.) amounted to 208 items (37%) 29 52 10 7 4 80 26 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 BLOG POSTS DOCUMENTS NEWSPAPER ARTICLES PRESENTATIONS VIDEO RECORDINGS WEB PAPGES REPORTS Distribution by type (grey literature)
  10. 10. 10/17 DOCUMENTS’ DISTRIBUTION BY TOPIC • Based on the abstracts, we divided the documents by theme • Documents were classified based on most addressed topic, but more than one topic may be touched => not sharp division between groups 32 91 43 92 20 103 41 21 8 72 38 8 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 ASSESSMENT CT SKILLS IN K-12 CURRICULA DEFINITIONS HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES IMPLEMENTATION LEARNING TOOLS POLICY DOCUMENTS RELATION TO DIGITAL COMPETENCE RELATION TO PROGRAMMING/CS TEACHER TRAINING & SUPPORT MEASURES THINKING SKILLS & OTHER FIELDS Distribution by Topic
  11. 11. 11/17 DOCUMENTS’ DISTRIBUTION BY YEAR OF PUBLICATION • Documents retrieved for 2006-2015, plus beginning 2016 • Faster growth in recent years (2016 only includes the first 3 months) 4 6 18 18 21 31 34 66 91 136 30 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Distribution by year of pubblication
  12. 12. 12/17 ANALYZING THE DOCUMENTS’ CONTENT [1/3] • Main trends  definition and characterization of CT evolved after the initial one, yet preserving its nature  design and implementation of successful activities to introduce CT with students of different school levels and types  potential advantages of introducing CT in education so as to guide students to think in more analytic way, tackle issues from different perspectives, develop creativity and innovation • Skills characterizing CT  abstraction; problem solving; using algorithms and procedues; examining patterns; collecting, analysing and representing data; making simulations; questioning evidence; using computer models; dealing with open-ended problems
  13. 13. 13/17 ANALYZING THE DOCUMENTS’ CONTENT [2/3] • A mutual influence between CT and coding/programming is recognized  acquiring CT does not require programming, because CT is a conceptual approach to abstraction and problem solving  programming concretely illustrates CT, hence facilitates (and for many authors is essential for) its acquisition • Digital Literacy, usually identified with school subject ICT, differs from CT, but is connected to it • Implementation papers refer to concrete attempts to introduce CT in school in different ways  by emphasizing the development of CT skills (e.g., abstraction) within computer science activities, mainly game development  by detecting/supporting CT skills in other disciplines  by designing activities for particular recipients, e.g. girls
  14. 14. 14/17 • School level addressed is mostly high school, but also primary and intermediate are present • A number of assessment approaches are considered, e.g.  analyzing a portfolio of projects  artifact-based interviews  scenario design  skill transfer to other contexts still under-investigated aspect • Teacher preparation and support measures to facilitate implementation are also addressed (in limited measure) but mostly not within implementation descriptions ANALYZING THE DOCUMENTS’ CONTENT [3/3]
  15. 15. 15/17 CONCLUSIONS • CT is a dynamic, rapidly growing field  widespread interest for understanding the nature of this form of thinking  increasing number of projects, initiatives and experiences  increasing attention at policy/curriculum level • Big differences in the distribution of documents by topic  assessment and teacher training are under-investigated no real field development without filling these gaps! • Very large variety of skills seen as part of CT  a too wide and vague characterization risks to void it of meaning no field development without focused characterization!
  16. 16. 16/17 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The CompuThink study is funded and designed by the JRC-IPTS of the European Commission under Contract No. 199551-2015 A08 IT and jointly carried out by • Institute for Educational Technology of the Italian National Research Council • European Schoolnet, which represents a network of Ministries of Education in Europe The data presented, the statements made and the views expressed in this presentation (and related article) are purely those of the authors and should not be regarded as the official position of the European Commission
  17. 17. 17/17 CONTACTS CompuThink study website https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/computational-thinking For more information write to bocconi@itd.cnr.it anusca.ferrari@eun.org Panagiotis.KAMPYLIS@ec.europa.eu

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