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A Framework for Designing and Evaluating Computational Thinking Problems in Education


Core Concepts
The authors propose a theoretical framework for analyzing, evaluating, revising, and designing computational thinking problems (CTPs) in educational contexts. The framework focuses on the characteristics of CTPs and how they influence the activation of specific computational thinking competencies.
Abstract
The authors present a theoretical framework for analyzing, evaluating, revising, and designing computational thinking problems (CTPs) in educational contexts. The key points are: CTP Components: The system: comprising the environment and the agent The problem solver: with access to reasoning and interaction tools The task: the activity the problem solver performs to find solutions CTP Characteristics: Artefactual environment: embodied, symbolic, or formal tools Tools functionalities: variables, operators, sequences, etc. Problem domain: unplugged, robotic, or virtual activities System resettability: directly or indirectly resettable System observability: partially, fully, or not observable Task type: find initial state, algorithm, or final state; creation, application, or project act Task cardinality: one-to-one, many-to-one, or many-to-many Task explicitness: explicitly or implicitly stated elements Task constraints: unconstrained or constrained elements to be found Catalogue of Computational Thinking (CT) Competencies: Problem setting: analyzing, data collection, pattern recognition, modeling, decomposition, abstraction, representing Algorithm: variables, operators, sequences, repetitions, conditionals, functions, parallelism, events Assessment: correctness, algorithm debugging, system state verification, constraints validation, effectiveness, optimisation, generalisation Mapping CTP Characteristics to CT Competencies: The framework establishes a direct link between CTP characteristics and CT competencies, showing how specific features can activate, prevent, promote, or be irrelevant to the development of particular skills. The framework provides a systematic approach for designing and evaluating CTPs to effectively develop and assess students' computational thinking abilities.
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Deeper Inquiries

How can this framework be extended to incorporate the role of the teacher and the learning context in the design and assessment of computational thinking problems

To incorporate the role of the teacher and the learning context in the design and assessment of computational thinking problems, the framework can be expanded in several ways. Firstly, the framework can include guidelines or best practices for teachers on how to facilitate and support students in developing computational thinking skills. This can involve providing resources, creating a conducive learning environment, and offering guidance on how to scaffold learning experiences effectively. Additionally, the framework can incorporate a section on teacher professional development, focusing on enhancing teachers' own computational thinking skills and pedagogical strategies. This would enable teachers to better design and assess computational thinking activities in the classroom. Furthermore, the framework can include a component that addresses the role of the learning context in shaping students' computational thinking abilities. This could involve considering factors such as cultural background, prior knowledge, and individual learning styles in the design and assessment of computational thinking problems.

What are the potential limitations of this framework in capturing the nuances and complexities of computational thinking in real-world problem-solving scenarios

While the framework provides a structured approach to analyzing and designing computational thinking problems, there are potential limitations in capturing the nuances and complexities of real-world problem-solving scenarios. One limitation is the static nature of the framework, which may not fully account for the dynamic and iterative nature of problem-solving processes. Real-world problems often require flexibility, creativity, and adaptability, which may not be fully captured within a predefined framework. Additionally, the framework may not fully address the interdisciplinary nature of computational thinking, as it primarily focuses on computer science and STEM education. Real-world problem-solving often involves a combination of skills from various disciplines, and the framework may need to be adapted to accommodate this interdisciplinary approach. Furthermore, the framework may not fully consider the socio-cultural aspects that influence computational thinking, such as equity, diversity, and inclusion. These factors play a significant role in shaping students' computational thinking abilities and should be integrated into the framework for a more comprehensive assessment.

How might this framework be adapted to support the development of computational thinking skills in interdisciplinary learning contexts beyond computer science and STEM education

To adapt the framework to support the development of computational thinking skills in interdisciplinary learning contexts beyond computer science and STEM education, several modifications can be made. Firstly, the framework can be expanded to include a broader range of competencies that are relevant to interdisciplinary problem-solving, such as critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. This would allow for a more holistic assessment of students' abilities in diverse learning contexts. Additionally, the framework can incorporate case studies or examples from interdisciplinary fields to demonstrate how computational thinking skills can be applied in different domains. This practical approach would help students see the relevance of computational thinking in various disciplines and foster a more interdisciplinary mindset. Moreover, the framework can include guidelines for integrating computational thinking into interdisciplinary curricula, highlighting the connections between computational thinking and other subject areas. By emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of computational thinking, the framework can better prepare students for the complex challenges they may encounter in diverse learning contexts.
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