K-2 students' computational thinking engagement in formal and informal learning settings: A case study (fundamental) Conference

Ehsan, H, Dandridge, TM, Yeter, IH et al. (2018). K-2 students' computational thinking engagement in formal and informal learning settings: A case study (fundamental) . 2018-June

cited authors

  • Ehsan, H; Dandridge, TM; Yeter, IH; Cardella, ME


  • Given the growth of technology in the 21st century and the growing demands for computer science skills, computational thinking has been increasingly included in K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Computational thinking (CT) is relevant to integrated STEM and has many common practices with other STEM disciplines. Previous studies have shown synergies between CT and engineering learning. In addition, many researchers believe that the more children are exposed to CT learning experiences, the stronger their programming abilities will be. As programming is a common aspect of undergraduate engineering coursework, preparing children for programming learning should be considered in pre-college engineering education. However, in order to incorporate CT in pre-college education, it is important to know what CT learning looks like for children in different formal and informal settings and the ways children can make connections across these settings. Previous studies have demonstrated that children as young as kindergarten are able to engage in computational thinking competencies. Building on this previous research, in this study, we look for the ways K-2 children engage in CT in school and out-of-school settings. Conducting case study research, we followed two first grade children across two learning settings and studied their enactments of CT. We first examined evidence of CT engagement of these children in a school setting where they engaged in a STEM+C curriculum and then captured their CT engagement during an engineering design task in a science center. The findings suggest that children are able to engage in several CT competencies and different levels of them. We have seen similarities in CT engagement in both settings. The competencies that we observed happening in both settings included Abstraction, Algorithm and Procedure, Debugging/Troubleshooting, Pattern Recognition, and Simulation. We also noticed that given the tasks that children were given, the level of CT competencies they engaged in was different.

publication date

  • June 23, 2018


  • 2018-June