Research suggests that developing computational thinking (CT) at a young age is critical for preparing students to engage with technology and for supporting achievement in STEM, literacy, and other disciplines. Despite the evidence establishing the significance of CT, there are few interventions created specifically for introducing CT learning preschoolers and their families. Through the current project, EDC/CCT will work closely with WGBH to determine the learning goals of CT for young children, explore strategies for introducing CT concepts to young children through media and hands-on activities, investigate how certain learning tasks can demonstrate what children understand about CT, and identify ways to support parental involvement in children’s CT learning experiences.
EDC/CCT and WGBH will utilize an iterative research and design process with children and their parents to create media and joint engagement activities while investigating how learning can be enriched and deepened through successive experiences. Following the creation of these resources, a experimental impact study will be conducted using a mixed-methods approach to capture evidence on the extent to which these resources encourage the development of young children’s CT and increase parents’ comfort and interest in the subject. Ultimately, this research will contribute to the field’s knowledge regarding young children’s acquisition of CT skills and the necessary scaffolds to increase parents’ capacity to support STEM learning.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments.