SRI International (SRI) proposes a planning effort that will lay the groundwork for a larger project to advance the field of assessment in computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT). Planning for the Assessment of Computational Thinking (PACT) will build new partnerships focused on the development and application of a CT assessment framework in the context of a CS high school curriculum. In today's broad push to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, measurements for science and mathematics learning are much more advanced and clearly defined than for computer science and technology. Most computer scientists agree that there is a skill called computational thinking that is needed to apply computational techniques to problems and projects in a wide range of fields. Over the past decade there has been a growing focus on the concept of CT from both within and outside of CS. Despite this, CS struggles to embed its constructs in the crowded K-12 curriculum. Computational thinking has begun to find a strong footing in some high schools, however, in the form of the NSF-funded Exploring Computer Science (ECS) pre-AP curriculum. The ECS curriculum, despite its comprehensiveness and clear value to the CS and STEM communities, is not yet accompanied by a clear assessment framework or tools to measure computational thinking learning outcomes, and it provides instructors with only general guidance on how they should assess their students? computational thinking knowledge and skills. As a result, the ECS curriculum provides a relevant foundation for a planning meeting to begin developing an assessment framework for CT, as well as a clear stepping-stone for building a partnership for a Type I project focused on designing, developing and validating CT assessments that can be used with ECS and other CS curricula. In the planning stage of the project, the critical thinking of experts in computer science, computer science education, and assessment will be leveraged through a face-to-face meeting to discuss and begin designing an assessment framework for computational thinking (CT). The assessment framework and other meeting outcomes will be summarized in a white paper to be disseminated on a web site that will include an innovative component for ongoing discussion about, and revision of, the framework.

Project Report

the critical thinking of experts in computer science, computer science education and assessment was leveraged in a 2-day meeting held at SRI International in January 2012. The primary goal of the meeting was to create a foundation for assessing computational thinking practices through achieving the following core objectives: Identify and specify, in the form of a structured framework, the organizing concepts and principles underlying the computational thinking practices domain. Create preliminary assessment design templates that specify what to measure, the behaviors that are evidence of what we want to measure, and the types of assessment tasks to elicit those behaviors. The meeting, a core part of this planning grant, included attendees from the University of Oregon (authors of Exploring Computer Science curriculum); Google Education; UCLA’s Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST); UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies; the University of British Columbia; the University of Colorado; and the Computer Science Teachers Association. The meeting produced the following outcomes: A conceptual framework for the computational thinking practices domain (see Figure 1). The identification of core computational thinking practices aligned with both the Exploring Computer Science and Advanced Placement CS Principles curricula (see Figure 2). Preliminary outlines for assessment design templates. A web site (see Figure 3) – - for hosting project materials as they were developed, as well as for hosting computational thinking artifacts and white papers from the follow on project, Principled Assessment of Computational Thinking.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Program Officer
Jeffrey Forbes
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Sri International
Menlo Park
United States
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