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Title: How can the teaching of programming be used to enhance computational thinking skills?
Author: Selby, Cynthia Collins
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 5944
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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The use of the term computational thinking, introduced in 2006 by Jeanette Wing, is having repercussions in the field of education. The term brings into sharp focus the concept of thinking about problems in a way that can lead to solutions that may be implemented in a computing device. Implementation of these solutions may involve the use of programming languages. This study explores ways in which programming can be employed as a tool to teach computational thinking and problem solving. Data is collected from teachers, academics, and professionals, purposively selected because of their knowledge of the topics of problem solving, computational thinking, or the teaching of programming. This data is analysed following a grounded theory approach. A Computational Thinking Taxonomy is developed. The relationships between cognitive processes, the pedagogy of programming, and the perceived levels of difficulty of computational thinking skills are illustrated by a model. Specifically, a definition for computational thinking is presented. The skills identified are mapped to Bloom’s Taxonomy: Cognitive Domain. This mapping concentrates computational skills at the application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels. Analysis of the data indicates that the less difficult computational thinking skills for beginner programmers are generalisation, evaluation, and algorithm design. Abstraction of functionality is less difficult than abstraction of data, but both are perceived as difficult. The most difficult computational thinking skill is reported as decomposition. This ordering of difficulty for learners is a reversal of the cognitive complexity predicted by Bloom’s model. The plausibility of this inconsistency is explored. The taxonomy, model, and the other results of this study may be used by educators to focus learning onto the computational thinking skills acquired by the learners, while using programming as a tool. They may also be employed in the design of curriculum subjects, such as ICT, computing, or computer science.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB Theory and practice of education ; QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science