tions require different kinds of mental processing, and such processing is usually not possible until later in development, suggesting that activities involving symbolic representation would better be undertaken later in the K-12 sequence.

As a point of contrast, Wing pointed to the way that computer science is typically taught. What is often taught in computer science to middle school and high school students, said Wing, reflects a relatively casual approach and is a minimally modified version of what is taught to undergraduates. What makes the approach casual is that it is done without a deep appreciation for how students learn at different ages. She noted that there is not a body of grounded and research-based knowledge about how the various aspects of computational thinking or computing map on to brain development. She went on to point out that despite this lack of knowledge, many people believe that some of the abstract concepts of computational thinking cannot be taught before students enter the eighth grade, because of a common assumption that only at that age are students able to learn abstract concepts. There are many such assumptions, she said, that must be evaluated in light of serious research about learning, research that has not yet been done with reference to computing or computational thinking.


Most of the workshop was devoted to describing and discussing various approaches to the teaching of computational thinking.

This report is organized as follows. Chapter 2 provides what the committee believes to be the key points raised by workshop participants—that is, the committee extracted from the various presentations and discussion sessions a number of key points that in its judgment speak most closely to the teaching of computational thinking. Chapter 3 presents individual committee members’ personal synthesis of points made in the respective panel sessions that they moderated. Chapter 4 contains summaries of individual presentations by workshop participants, which often elaborate in more detail examples described in Chapter 2. Depending on the depth and degree of context in which the reader is interested, the committee encourages reading back and forth between these different levels of summary.

Although workshop participants did not agree explicitly on a definition of computational thinking, the examples they provided during this workshop are valuable as indicators of ways that people see the intersection of computation, disciplinary knowledge, and algorithms. Other examples identify what the participants saw as issues and problems when trying to introduce computational thinking into school and non-school pedagogical contexts.

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