Creating the computer player: an engaging and collaborative approach to introduce computational thinking by combining ‘unplugged’ activities with visual programming
Italian Journal of Educational Technology Volume 25, Number 2, ISSN 2532-4632 e-ISSN 2532-4632 Publisher: Edizioni Menabò - Menabò srl, Ortona, Italy
Ongoing research is being conducted on appropriate course design, practices and teacher interventions for improving the efficiency of computer science and programming courses in K-12 education. The trend is towards a more constructivist problem-based learning approach. Computational thinking, which refers to formulating and solving problems in a form that can be efficiently processed by a computer, raises an important educational challenge. Our research aims to explore possible ways of enriching computer science teaching with a focus on development of computational thinking. We have prepared and evaluated a learning intervention for introducing computer programming to children between 10 and 14 years old; this involves students working in groups to program the behavior of the computer player of a well-known game. The programming process is split into two parts. First, students design a high-level version of their algorithm during an \u2018unplugged\u2019 pen & paper phase, and then they encode their solution as an executable program in a visual programming environment. Encouraging evaluation results have been achieved regarding the educational and motivational value of the proposed approach.
Gardeli, A. & Vosinakis, S. (2017). Creating the computer player: an engaging and collaborative approach to introduce computational thinking by combining ‘unplugged’ activities with visual programming. Italian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(2), 36-50. Ortona, Italy: Edizioni Menabò - Menabò srl.