Developing students’ thinking skills through coding in the primary school

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Coding and computational learning activities are becoming integral components of school curriculum in many countries. Often arguments for this centre on the need to develop what are seen as future-focused skills and competencies, and to engage more young people in ICT-related careers or study. These competencies comprise more than technical skills, encompassing dispositional elements such as creativity and innovation, and general cognitive capabilities such as complex and higher order thinking. Indeed, the development of a digitally literate, innovative and flexibly-skilled workforce is seen by many governments as key to future economic prosperity and social well-being. However, while these goals are admirable, limited empirical evidence presently exists that computational activities like coding actually support young students to develop these capabilities.

This presentation summarises findings from a two year New Zealand Government-funded study into the nature of thinking skills students apply when engaged in coding activities. It used an innovative recording tool installed on class sets of iPads to capture video and audio data while 5 and 6 year old students were completing a range of coding tasks that were integrated into a Geometry topic, using Scratch Jnr. Data were analysed against a thinking skills model based on Krathwohl’s (2002) adaptation of Bloom’s Taxonomy (cognitive domain) and Brennan and Resnick’s (2012) framework for evaluating computational thinking, to discover the extent to which coding provided a useful means of building general and higher order thinking skills. Data will be presented and discussed highlighting key outcomes from the study, and useful guidance provided for teachers wanting to explore coding as a means of building thinking competencies in their students.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventCreateworld 2016 - Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 8 Dec 20169 Dec 2016


ConferenceCreateworld 2016
Internet address


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