DEC Scan Journal : Volume 36 Issue 1
2017 Volume 36, Issue 1 35 Contents Editorial Learning & teaching Research Share this Resource reviews What is computational thinking? Conceptual definition A leading proponent on computational thinking, Jeanette Wing, (who popularised the term) considers computational thinking to be characterised by: • recursive thinking • reduction • transformation • simplicity • elegance • aesthetics • decomposition • representation • modelling • modularization • and pattern recognition all of which is underpinned by its defining feature: abstraction (or generalisation beyond specific instances) (Wing, 2006, 2008, 2011). Computational thinking Jeannette Wing Following a literature synthesis on computational thinking, Selby and Woollard (2014) proposed that computational thinking is a thought process that reflects: • The ability to think in abstractions • The ability to think in terms of decomposition, or breaking problems down by functionality • The ability to think algorithmically • The ability to think in terms of evaluations, or the ability to analyse the trade-offs of using different solutions • The ability to think in terms of generalisations, which follows from decomposition in being able to reuse functional components to solve different problems. While these abilities may be present individually or as separate components of other forms of thinking, it is their combination that constitutes computational thinking. Concepts Seven computational thinking concepts are identified (in the context of the design of interactive media but are applicable to other design and problem solving contexts) (Brennan & Resnick). 1. Sequences Sequences can be understood as a set of programming instructions specifying the intended behaviour or action. The concepts described below rely on an understanding of sequences. 2. Loops Loops are a mechanism for running the same sequence multiple times. 3. Parallelism While a single sequence is typically expressed as a single serial set of instructions, parallelism is used to describe sequences that are being run at the same time. 4. Events An event can be conceptualised as an outcome that needs to be met to cause something to happen; a trigger. 5. Conditionals The ability to describe a set of conditions that must be met for a certain outcome to occur can be conceived as conditionals. Conditionals are commonly introduced to students in the context of ‘if/then’ statements. 6. Data A broad set of related understandings fall under the category of data. Students should understand the structure of data, as variables and lists. They also require an understanding of what can be done with data, such as storing, retrieving, manipulating and updating it. 7. Operators This concept is best understood as an enabler of data manipulation which may be numerical, logical or string (such as text) in nature.
Volume 35 Issue 4
Volume 36 Issue 2