REPORT OF A WORKSHOP ON THE PEDAGOGICAL ASPECTS OF

COMPUTATIONAL
THINKING

Committee for the Workshops on Computational Thinking

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                         OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

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Committee for the Workshops on Computational Thinking Computer Science and Telecommunications Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Gov- erning Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engi - neering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation under sponsor award number CNS-0831827. Any opinions expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agencies and organizations that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-21474-2 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-21474-2 Copies of this report are available from The National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285 Washington, DC 20055 800/624-6242 202/334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal govern - ment on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the char- ter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstand - ing engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in pro - viding services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE FOR THE WORKSHOPS ON COMPUTATIONAL THINKING MARCIA LINN, University of California, Berkeley, Chair ALFRED V. AHO, Columbia University M. BRIAN BLAKE, University of Notre Dame ROBERT CONSTABLE, Cornell University YASMIN B. KAFAI, University of Pennsylvania JANET L. KOLODNER, Georgia Institute of Technology LAWRENCE SNYDER, University of Washington, Seattle URI WILENSKY, Northwestern University Staff HERBERT S. LIN, Study Director and Chief Scientist, CSTB ENITA A. WILLIAMS, Associate Program Officer SHENAE BRADLEY, Senior Program Assistant v

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COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD ROBERT F. SPROULL, Oracle, Chair PRITHVIRAJ BANERJEE, Hewlett Packard Company STEVEN M. BELLOVIN, Columbia University SEYMOUR E. GOODMAN, Georgia Institute of Technology JOHN E. KELLY III, IBM Research JON M. KLEINBERG, Cornell University ROBERT KRAUT, Carnegie Mellon University SUSAN LANDAU, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study PETER LEE, Microsoft Corporation DAVID LIDDLE, US Venture Partners WILLIAM H. PRESS, University of Texas at Austin PRABHAKAR RAGHAVAN, Yahoo! Research DAVID E. SHAW, D.E. Shaw Research ALFRED Z. SPECTOR, Google, Inc. JOHN SWAINSON, Silver Lake Partners PETER SZOLOVITS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology PETER J. WEINBERGER, Google, Inc. ERNEST J. WILSON, University of Southern California JON EISENBERG, Director RENEE HAWKINS, Financial and Administrative Manager HERBERT S. LIN, Chief Scientist, CSTB LYNETTE I. MILLETT, Senior Program Officer EMILY ANN MEYER, Program Officer VIRGINIA BACON TALATI, Associate Program Officer ENITA A. WILLIAMS, Associate Program Officer SHENAE BRADLEY, Senior Program Assistant ERIC WHITAKER, Senior Program Assistant For more information on CSTB, see its website at http://www.cstb.org, write to CSTB, National Research Council, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, call (202) 334-2605, or e-mail the CSTB at cstb@nas.edu. vi

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Preface In 2008, the Computer and Information Science and Engineer- ing Directorate of the National Science Foundation asked the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct two workshops to explore the nature of computational thinking and its cognitive and educational implications. The first workshop focused on the scope and nature of computational thinking and on articulating what “computational thinking for everyone” might mean. A report of that workshop was released in January 2010.1 Drawing in part on the proceedings of that workshop, the present report summarizes the second workshop, which was held February 4-5, 2010, in Washington, D.C., and focused on pedagogical considerations for com - putational thinking. Although this document was prepared by the Committee for the Workshops on Computational Thinking based on workshop presenta- tions and discussions, it does not reflect consensus views of the commit - tee. Under NRC guidelines for conducting workshops and developing workshop report summaries, workshop activities do not seek consensus and workshop reports (such as the present volume) cannot be said to represent “an NRC view” on the subject at hand. As with the first work - shop, this second workshop revealed a plethora of perspectives on ways to approach pedagogy for computational thinking. The two workshops, 1 National Research Council, 2010, Report of a Workshop on the Scope and Nature of Computa- tional Thinking, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Available at http://www. nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12840. Last accessed February 7, 2011. vii

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viii PREFACE taken together, call attention to the diversity of views on many aspects of computational thinking as well as its definition, and it is the hope of the committee that the present report, which contains a digest of both presentations and discussion, will serve as a vehicle that increases com - munication on the topic across the community. The full workshop agenda is provided in Appendix A, and short biog- raphies of the workshop participants are given in Appendix B. Marcia C. Linn, Chair Committee for the Workshops on Computational Thinking

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Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Christine Cunningham, Museum of Science Margaret Honey, New York Hall of Science Peter Szolovits, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Robert Tinker, The Concord Consortium Michelle Williams, Michigan State University Although the reviewers listed above have provided many construc- tive comments and suggestions, they did not see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was coordinated by Joseph F. Traub, Columbia University. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. ix

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Contents 1 INTRODUCTION 1 1.1 Scope and Approach of This Report, 1 1.2 Motivating an Examination of Pedagogy, 4 1.3 Organization of This Report, 5 2 KEY POINTS EXPRESSED BY PRESENTERS AND DISCUSSANTS 6 2.1 Perspectives on Computational Thinking and Computational Thinkers, 6 2.2 Activities of Computational Thinking, 7 2.3 Contexts for Computational Thinking, 9 2.3.1 Everyday Life, 10 2.3.2 Games and Gaming, 10 2.3.3 Science, 11 2.3.4 Engineering, 15 2.3.5 Journalism, 15 2.3.6 Abstracting Problem Solving from Specific Contexts, 16 2.4 Pedagogical Environments for Computational Thinking, 17 2.4.1 Foci for Pedagogical Environments, 17 2.4.2 Illustrative Pedagogical Environments, 19 2.5 Developmental Considerations and Computational Thinking, 21 2.5.1 Development of Scientific Thinking in Children, 23 2.5.2 Possible Progressions, 24 xi

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xii CONTENTS 2.6 Assessments for Computational Thinking, 26 2.7 Teachers and Computational Thinking, 27 2.7.1 Professional Development and Other Needs for Teacher Support, 28 2.7.2 Teachers and Career Awareness, 29 2.8 Learning Contexts and Computational Thinking, 30 2.8.1 Aligning with Standards, 30 2.8.2 Out-of-School Computational Thinking, 31 2.9 Research and Unanswered Questions Regarding Computational Thinking, 33 2.9.1 The Importance of a Process for Defining Computational Thinking, 33 2.9.2 The Role of Technology, 34 2.9.3 The Need for Interoperability, 34 2.9.4 The Need for a Career Framework, 35 3 COMMITTEE MEMBER PERSPECTIVES 36 3.1 Alfred Aho, 36 3.2 Uri Wilensky, 39 3.3 Yasmin Kafai, 45 3.4 Marcia Linn, 47 3.5 Larry Snyder, 50 3.6 Janet Kolodner, 52 3.7 Brian Blake, 63 4 SUMMARIES OF INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATIONS 65 4.1 Computational Thinking and Scientific Visualization, 65 4.1.1 Questions Addressed, 65 4.1.2 Robert Tinker, Concord Consortium, 66 4.1.3 Mitch Resnick, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 67 4.1.4 John Jungck, Beloit College, BioQUEST, 69 4.1.5 Idit Caperton, World Wide Workshop, Globaloria, 72 4.2 Computational Thinking and Technology, 75 4.2.1 Questions Addressed, 75 4.2.2 Robert Panoff, Shodor Education Foundation, 75 4.2.3 Stephen Uzzo, New York Hall of Science, Museum Studies, 78 4.2.4 Jill Denner, Education, Training, Research Associates, 81 4.2.5 Lou Gross, National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, 83 4.3 Computational Thinking in Engineering and Computer Science, 86 4.3.1 Questions Addressed, 86

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xiii CONTENTS 4.3.2 Christine Cunningham, Museum of Science, Engineering is Elementary Project, 87 4.3.3 Taylor Martin, University of Texas at Austin, 91 4.3.4 Ursula Wolz, College of New Jersey, 92 4.3.5 Peter Henderson, Butler University, 95 4.4 Teaching and Learning Computational Thinking, 97 4.4.1 Questions Addressed, 97 4.4.2 Deanna Kuhn, Columbia University, 97 4.4.3 Matthew Stone, Rutgers University, 99 4.4.4 Jim Slotta, University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 101 4.4.5 Joyce Malyn-Smith, Education Development Center, Inc., ITEST Learning Resource Center, 104 4.4.6 Jan Cuny, National Science Foundation, CS 10K Project, 108 4.5 Educating the Educators, 110 4.5.1 Questions Addressed, 110 4.5.2 Michelle Williams, Michigan State University, 111 4.5.3 Walter Allan and Jeri Erickson, Foundation for Blood Research, EcoScienceWorks Project, 115 4.5.4 Danny Edelson, National Geographic Society, 117 4.6 Measuring Outcomes (for Evaluation) and Collecting Feedback (for Assessment), 120 4.6.1 Questions Addressed, 120 4.6.2 Paulo Blikstein, Stanford University, 121 4.6.3 Christina Schwarz, Michigan State University, 123 4.6.4 Mike Clancy, University of California, Berkeley, 126 4.6.5 Derek Briggs, University of Colorado, Boulder, 128 4.6.6 Cathy Lachapelle, Museum of Science, Engineering is Elementary Project, 130 5 CONCLUSION 133 APPENDIXES A Workshop Agenda 137 B Short Biographies of Committee Members, Workshop Participants, and Staff 143

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