How to design activities for learning computational thinking in the context of early primary school in an after-school code club
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
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Oulu : E. Agyei,
Computational Thinking (CT) and its related concepts have gained a lot of traction within the field of education. Many countries, including Finland and the United Kingdom, are in the process of integrating CT into their national curriculums to equip pupils with much needed 21st century digital skills, including coding (programming). As a result, several programs and activities are being developed to introduce pupils to CT. The need to develop appropriate teaching and learning materials, as well as train teachers to teach, and integrate computational thinking into their lessons is apparent. This thesis seeks to contribute to the body of knowledge on computational thinking by designing and testing instructional materials for early primary school. Computational thinking as a concept, how to integrate its concepts into coding, as well as how pupils understood the concept were explored.
This study was conducted in an after-school coding club at an elementary school in the northern part of Finland. The duration for the coding club was 8 weeks. Each lesson lasted for 45 minutes. Participants were selected from among 1st and 2nd grade pupils. In selecting participants for this study, priority was given to pupils with no prior coding experience. 13 out of the selected 17 had no prior experience. The remaining 4 participants were randomly selected from the rest of the applicants who had coding experience.
Worksheets and stickers were designed and tested for teaching and learning computational thinking. Lesson plans designed for the coding club included activities for teaching computational thinking using unplugged activities and Scratchjr. The unplugged activities were integrated into coding lessons to enhance the understanding of pupils during the coding lessons. This approach helped to connect theoretical computational thinking to real life practices and its application in the context of coding.
Data collected included the unplugged activity worksheets of the participants, their Scratchjr projects, and self-efficacy beliefs regarding their ability to code and think computationally. These work products were evaluated qualitatively for evidence of understanding. The analysis of the self-efficacy beliefs of participants revealed that participants were confident of their computational thinking and coding abilities.
The main outcome of this research is the instructional material (stickers, templates, and Scratchjr activities) which was designed for teaching and learning purposes. This unique experiment and pedagogical designs are explained to show how unplugged activities can be used to introduce pupils to computational thinking concepts.
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