Computational thinking with families: Studying an at-home media intervention to promote joint media engagement between preschoolers and their parents

December 21, 2023

This paper describes a study designed to investigate the promise of resources that support the development of computational thinking (CT) in preschool children. This study was the culmination of a collaborative research process between researchers and media developers of a home-based intervention that included media and hands-on activities created to support the development of young children's CT. The mixed-methods study included 108 families, each with a 4- or 5-year-old child. Families, who participated in the study at home for six weeks, were randomly assigned to an intervention group that viewed media and engaged with hands-on activities with a CT focus or a control group that viewed and engaged with non-STEM literacy content. Data collection consisted of parent surveys, parent interviews, and CT learning and pre-coding tasks to assess children's CT abilities. Results indicate that the learning intervention demonstrates promise in supporting parental understanding of CT. Experience with the intervention over the six weeks also appeared to cultivate some CT strategy use in children as evidenced by parental reports and performance on learning and pre-coding sequencing tasks. 

Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 65(4), pp. 102-114.