16 SES 07 A, A European Perspective on Researching Computational Thinking as a Key Competence for 21st Century Learners
Computational thinking is supposed to be one of the most important key competences of the 21st century (e.g. Voogt et al., 2015). Grover and Pea (2013) emphasize that it therefore has to be considered for all students, including those who are not interested in pursuing computer science or STEM careers. In this understanding, the acquisition of computational thinking skills should be made accessible to everyone to successfully participate in a digitalized world. From this, new challenges for schools and school systems arise. Consequently, computational thinking is discussed as a new learning area and future-orientated part of school curricula in the context of teaching and learning with ICT. An increasing number of countries worldwide, also in Europe, have already started to integrate computational thinking in their school curricula using different approaches. Understanding the teaching of competences in this field as a cross-curricula responsibility, research towards computational thinking is a new area of educational research (Eickelmann, 2017). This especially refers to research towards students’ learning and acquiring competences in computational thinking in different subjects (Barr, Harrison & Conery, 2011). In this context, core research questions for educational research are: How can computational thinking be defined as a learning area for students? How can it be taught and assessed? What teacher competences are needed and what other conditional factors on the classroom and school level, lead to support competences in computational thinking in different learning settings and for all students? For the European context, the core questions are related to the ways of different understanding and approaches across European countries and the effort made in preparing students for living and working in the digital age.
As to the understanding of the processes related to computational thinking, current research elaborates on finding a definition (Dede, Mishra & Voogt, 2013). A literature review shows that most approaches begin with referring to Wing (2006) as she brought up the topic to the educational discussion. In her understanding computational thinking comprises fundamental skills which allow individuals solving problems by using computers.
As to the different approaches in European educational systems, this symposium provides insights into current research from the perspective of four countries: Cyprus, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. The presentation by Angeli investigates the development of children’s computational thinking during learning with educational robotics in pre-primary in Cyprus comparing boys’ and girls’ learning. Van der Linde-Koomen and Voogt report on a study conducted in a Dutch primary school in which the conceptualization of computational practices and thinking skills that young children use by carrying out programming tasks with robots is examined. Eickelmann reports on computational thinking as an international option of the second cycle of the international study ICILS 2018 (International Computer and Information Literacy Study, Fraillon, Schulz, Friedman & Duckworth, 2018, in press) in which apart from Germany five European countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Portugal) participate. The contribution of Caeli and Bundsgaard refers to a Danish extension of ICILS 2018. They present findings of a study they carry out in the 150 schools participating in ICILS 2018. In concrete they examined current and planned learning activities of students who had been educated computationally before as well as teacher professional skills to teach computational thinking concepts. The research presented in this symposium will be discussed by Stefania Bocconi, National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Institute for Educational Technology (ITD), as an expert involved in developing an ICT-related framework for the European Commission which most recent version also elaborates on general aspects of problem solving (Carreto Gomez, Vuorikari & Punie, 2017).
Barr, D., Harrison, J. & Conery, L. (2011). Computational Thinking: A digital age skill for everyone. Learning & Learning with Technology, 38(6), 20–23. Carretero Gomez, S., Vuorikari, R. & Punie, Y. (2017). DigComp2.1: The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens with eight proficiency levels and examples of use. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Dede, C., Mishra, P. & Voogt, J. (2013). Advancing computational thinking in 21st century learning. International Summit on ICT in Education, Dallas, TX. Eickelmann, B. (2017). Computational Thinking als internationales Zusatzmodul zu ICILS 2018 – Konzeptionierung und Perspektiven für die empirische Bildungsforschung. [Computational Thinking as an international option in ICILS 2018 - the perspective of educational research] Tertium Comparationis. Journal für International und Interkulturell Vergleichende Erziehungswissenschaft, 23(1), 47–61. Fraillon, J., Schulz, W., Friedman, T. & Duckworth, D. (2018, in press). Assessment Framework of ICILS 2018. Amsterdam: IEA. Grover, S. & Pea, R. (2013). Computational Thinking in K–12: A Review of the State of the Field. Educational Researcher, 42(1), 38–43. Voogt, J., Fisser, P., Good, J., Mishra, P. & Yadav, A. (2015). Computational thinking in compulsory education: Towards an agenda for research and practice. Education and Information Technologies, 1–14. Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational Thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33–35.
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