Friday, March 2, 2012

How Does it Figure? Computer Science Education

 Hi Edu 422 group,

Barr and Stephenson wrote the article Bringing CT to K-12: What Is Involved and What Is the Role of the Computer Science Education Community? to “articulate a set of key concepts within computation that can be applied across disciplines” and demonstrate computational thinking in the classroom. They also make it clear in the title, as well as in several places in the document that “Collaboration with the computer science education community is vital to this effort.”

The authors make their point with emotional language and concrete examples by stressing how “profound leaps of innovation and imagination as it facilitates our efforts to solve pressing problems (for example, the prevention or cure of diseases, the elimination of world hunger).” They also link computational thinking to “today’s students [who] will go on to live a life heavily influenced by computing, and many will work in fields that involve or are influenced by computing. They must begin to work with algorithmic problem solving and computational methods and tools in K-12.” The link between the students and their future is computational thinking.

I believe that learning should tap into computational thinking for the students today because “students engaged in using tools to solve problems, [who are] comfortable with trial and error, and working in an atmosphere of figuring things out together” is beneficial to their whole development as global citizens and as the next generation workforce. Teaching in today’s classrooms needs to meet tomorrow’s skills and needs.

I will collaborate with teachers across disciplines, such as social science, computer science, math, and language arts. With reading and composition, students are capable of using computational thinking about “sequences, inputs, outputs, saved value, how complex the solution is, [how] problems can be solved in multiple ways, tolerance for ambiguity and flexibility, and reasonable expectations about the prospect of producing a working solution” while comprehending and creating structure, style, voice, point of view, grammar, reading, and writing in a variety of materials and documents. Computation thinking is possible with time, creativity, open-mindedness, and school and district support.

In conclusion, computational thinking moves towards student-centered education. It would take planning, buy-in, collaboration, and a change of mindset; but, the work would pay off in the long run for teaching as a cutting-edge profession and students who can compete in a global, technologically advanced economy and world. The “areas of values, motivations, feelings, stereotypes and attitudes” applicable to computational thinking are important and relevant to all learners. Every student needs the ability to, “deal with complexity, persist in working with difficult problems, handle ambiguity, deal with open-ended problems, set aside differences to work with others to achieve a common goal or solution, and know one's strengths and weaknesses when working with others.”

Computational thinking meets the NETS for students standard 1. Creativity and Innovation. NETS 1a. through 1d. are met by computational thinking in the following ways: students “demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology” through, “innovation, exploration, and creativity across disciplines.” They “create original works as a means of personal or group expression” through “group problem solving and reflecting on practice and communicating.” Students, “model, run simulations, do systems analysis” to “explore complex systems and issues.” Finally, students “identify trends and forecast possibilities” by “design[ing] solutions to problems (using abstraction, automation, creating algorithms, data collection and analysis).”

APA Reference
Barr V. and Stephenson C. (2011, March). Bringing CT to K-12: What Is Involved and What Is the Role of the Computer Science Education Community? ACM Inroads, 2 (1). Retrieved from

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