Computational thinking: the developing definition

Selby, Cynthia and Woollard, John (2013) Computational thinking: the developing definition. , University of Southampton (E-prints), 6pp.


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Since Jeanette Wing’s use of the term computational thinking in 2006, various discussions have arisen seeking a robust definition of the phrase. With little consensus having been found in the intervening years, there are even suggestions that a definition is not important. Perhaps focus should be on how computational thinking is taught and how its acquisition might be observed. However, in order to facilitate consistent curriculum design and appropriate assessment, it is argued that a definition should still be sought

In order to contribute to the discussions surrounding a definition of computational thinking, this review of literature spans the years since 2006. The most frequently occurring terms, descriptions, and meanings are identified. Consideration is given to the motivation for inclusion or exclusion of a term by each individual author. Where possible, if a description has been given, an associated term is supplied.

Criteria are developed for the objectives of a computational thinking definition, in accordance with the needs identified in the literature. Using the criteria as a guide and the collected terms as the vocabulary, a definition of computational thinking is proposed which encompasses the thought processes of abstraction, decomposition, algorithmic design, evaluation, and generalization.

Item Type: Monograph (Other)
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Human Sciences > Southampton Education School > Centre for Research in Inclusion (CRI)
ePrint ID: 356481
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2013 12:30
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 14:57

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