Computational Thinking, Redefined
Tuesday, March 27 2:15-2:45 PM
The term computational thinking (CT) was popularized a decade ago as an “attitude and skillset” for everyone. However, since it is equated with thinking by experts in solving problems, more than a decade of discourse to capture its cognitive essence has resulted in a rather broad set of skills whose teaching to novices continues to pose challenges because of the reliance on the use of electronic computers and programming concepts that are often found too abstract and difficult by young students. The ongoing struggle in the field by teachers and educators on how to integrate CT practices and skills into K-12 education indicates that there still remain major trouble spots including definition, methods of measurement, cognitive aspects, and universal value of CT. This article redefines computational thinking by separating it from both the expert thinking and the use and programming of electronic computing devices. By merging concepts from epistemology, computing, cognitive and neurosciences, it introduces a framework which links CT to fundamental cognitive competencies that can be fostered at early ages using readily available tools in schools. The new framework also links computer science to natural sciences by putting computation at the heart of how everything forms and evolves in the universe.