Int. J. of Applied Mathematics, Computational Science and Systems Engineering

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Article

The Impact of Practicing the Computational Thinking in a Programming Course

Author(s): Anabela Gomes, Fernanda Brito Correia, E. Bigotte de Almeida, Ricardo Almeida

Abstract: Engineering students have problems related to problem-solving skills, which reflects on a high failure rate in introductory programming curricular units they attend. To try to reduce this failure rate and to help students to acquire the necessary programming competences, new processes of teaching and learning are needed. Plans should be drawn to foster positive attitudes towards programming to reinforce students’ motivation to learn and to apply their knowledge to new situations. In higher education and from an early stage, constructing instruments that facilitate the learning and teaching process and the promotion of student involvement, contributes to build a sustainable structure that includes students’ projects carried out in areas of programming knowledge, which are considered essential to facilitate the assimilation of computational thinking. To achieve this, it was implemented a collaborative project, where students should develop a project using the Scratch software. This collaborative project was evaluated, using several questionnaires with various statements answered by the students after they finished their project. These questionnaires were analysed, by grouping the statements of the questionnaires into categories and sub-categories. Conclusions, about the usefulness of mapping both Scratch and C programming language in the process of learning and teaching, in the learning of programming introductory concepts and in the students’ motivation to try other programming languages, are extracted from the evaluation of their projects and from the analysis of these questionnaires.

Keywords: Scratch, Higher Education, Mathematics, Programming, Computational Thinking Skills

Pages: 12-19

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