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Title: Developing computer networks students' computational thinking : the case for the use of simulation software
Author: Mvalo, Steve
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 8408
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2019
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The current study set out to investigate students' and lecturers' understanding of computational thinking (CT) and their perceptions of how students' CT skills could be facilitated through the use of simulation software. This is an important research area as studies have shown that developing Computer Sciences students' CT skills could enable them to become producers of technology in the 21st century. Mixed methodologies with qualitative methods were espoused in addressing the research questions. Data were collected from a UK university via surveys (69 students and 14 lecturers), interviews (four students and three lecturers), two focus groups with seven undergraduate students and six postgraduate students, problem-solving tasks using simulation software, and reflective reports from six postgraduate students. Using thematic qualitative data analysis, findings of the first research question indicated that students' and lecturers' understanding of CT went beyond the predetermined themes of the common conceptualisation of CT i.e. abstraction, decomposition and generalisation, and that it encompasses other dimensions of CT e.g. algorithmic thinking and problem-solving approaches. However, students' and lecturers' overall understanding of CT was predominantly based on the concept of decomposition and lecturers were not conscious of the concepts of CT when teaching and assessing students, indicating lack of their understanding in teaching and assessing students' CT skills. In the second research question, students' and lecturers' perceptions indicated that simulation software provides a conducive platform to facilitate students' CT skills. Finally, in the third research question, students were able to demonstrate the concepts of abstraction, decomposition and generalisation using problem solving tasks via simulation software though subconsciously. From this study it is recommendable that simulation software be used to facilitate the application and development of students' CT skills.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral