The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) are serving as a national convener and consensus builder around defining a common language surrounding computational thinking, articulating the challenges and opportunities of integrating computational thinking throughout PK-12 education, and creating a pathway forward for bringing computational thinking into the mainstream. This project responds to the pressing need for consensus around key definitions, concepts, and strategies for implementing computational thinking into PK-12 classrooms.

This project covers the first of a two-phase process. In Phase I, the PIs are convening a small steering committee to plan for two larger workshops. The first workshop convenes thought leaders, builds a shared understanding of and vision for computational thinking, and identifies the stakeholder community that will participate in the second workshop. The second workshop convenes stakeholders to begin to identify opportunities and challenges and define the resources, curriculum and assessments, and support required to bring about real and sustained changes to PK-12 education.

Intellectual Merit: Jeannette Wing published a germinal paper (Wing, 2006) where she posited that computational thinking encompasses a diverse set of skills that enables us to systematically and efficiently process information and solve complex problems. Grounded in the core activities of problem definition, abstractions, and solution development, Wing further argued that computational thinking could be directly applied, not just to computer science problems, but to the problems in virtually any discipline or field of human engagement. At the PK-12 level, the discussion and the actual implementation of computational thinking concepts across PK-12 education have been hampered by confusion regarding the nature of computational thinking, the absence of a shared lexicon for cross disciplinary discussions, and the absence of a plan for moving forward that addresses the complexity of achieving real and sustained change in PK-12 education.

This project contributes to the advancement of computational thinking throughout PK-12 education through the following strategies: Developing a better understanding of computational thinking through creating a shared working definition of ?computational thinking? as it applies across disciplines PK-12. Strengthen the teaching of computational thinking skills PK-12 through supporting the development and dissemination of classroom resources including model curriculum and assessments. Create broad scale dissemination of examples of computational thinking across the curriculum through working collaboratively with subject area specialists across the disciplines.

Broader Impact: The drive to embed computational thinking concepts across disciplines and subject areas will require the entire education community to grapple with core issues relating to developing precise and yet generalized definitions of concepts and practices. To achieve this, the computing community must move beyond the limitations of individual disciplines to a more cohesive and shared understanding of the ways in which computation underlies all problem definition and solution and improve our understanding of the ways in which computational thinking can enrich understanding and practice. This project addresses the pressing need to create a more inclusive language to facilitate the identification and sharing of key concepts, challenges, strategies, and best practices and provide a mechanism for convening the larger community in the implementation of these powerful concepts and ideas across PK-12 education.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Harriet G. Taylor
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International Society for Technology in Education
United States
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