New NRC Report on Pedagogical Aspects of Computational Thinking
The National Research Council just released a new report on Computational Thinking last week. Marcia Linn of Berkeley came to present the report to the NSF CE21 meeting last week. It’s on how to teach Computational Thinking. I saw Marcia Thursday night before she spoke, and she asked me how I defined CT. I declined to answer her (because last time I came up with one, the response was mostly how wrong I was), and asked her for her definition. She gave a nice one that involved relating computing to the problem domain context, but admitted that that was her definition. The committee couldn’t come to a consensus on a definition. I asked her if she thought computer scientists would agree with her definition. She said that she was able to convince the ones she found most difficult (because her definition included programming, and that was key to the computer scientists she worked with), and that was good enough for her.
There is lots of pressure to teach and assess computational thinking — for which we have too many definitions and too little consensus. Really hard to make progress on a goal if we don’t know what the goal is.
In 2008, the Computer and Information Science and Engineering 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.Drawing in part on the proceedings of that workshop, Report of a Workshop of Pedagogical Aspects of Computational Thinking, summarizes the second workshop, which was held February 4-5, 2010, in Washington, D.C., and focuses on pedagogical considerations for computational thinking. This workshop was structured to gather pedagogical inputs and insights from educators who have addressed computational thinking in their work with K-12 teachers and students. It illuminates different approaches to computational thinking and explores lessons learned and best practices. Individuals with a broad range of perspectives contributed to this report. Since the workshop was not intended to result in a consensus regarding the scope and nature of computational thinking, Report of a Workshop of Pedagogical Aspects of Computational Thinking does not contain findings or recommendations.