The Effects of Gender and Literacy in the Development of Computational Thinking Skills in 6th Grade Students
Abstract: This study investigated the effects of gender and literacy in the development of computational thinking in sixth grade students through their participation in a four-week robotics program. A diverse cohort of forty-nine sixth graders participated in a three-week robotics program using LEGO robots. The program consisted of students first learning the basics of constructing and programming their LEGO robots and then participating in two challenges: a hallway race challenge and a dance-off challenge. Throughout the program students kept detailed daily journals which captured their experiences in real time and allowed them to go back and revise, reflect, and identify strength and weaknesses. Analysis of the student journals demonstrated a gender effect on writing. Female students wrote more and with more detail than their male peers. They also tended to emphasis the process of the challenges, where the male students wrote more about the operational aspects of the task. Mixed gender groups tended to inherit the characteristics of the gender in the majority. These findings have broad implications for future research and practice.
Presider: Ramya Sivaraj, University of Minnesota