Modified CDIO Framework for Elementary Teacher Training in Computational Thinking

Modified CDIO Framework for Elementary Teacher Training in Computational Thinking

S. Hladik, L. Behjat, A. Nygren (2017).  Modified CDIO Framework for Elementary Teacher Training in Computational Thinking. 13.

Computational thinking has been defined as using the concepts of computer science to solve problems and understand humans. Recent reports call for the inclusion of computational thinking in elementary education, but there are barriers including a lack of teacher knowledge and confidence in the subject, and in Canada, a lack of a nationally-defined curriculum. Computational thinking is often taught outside of the formal educational system, and in some cases, alongside engineering design concepts. This provides an opportunity to use the CDIO framework to teach computational thinking. While the CDIO framework is designed for post-secondary engineering programs, it has been successfully used at the high school level and even junior high level to teach topics such as robotics. However, it must be adapted and simplified for use at the elementary school level.

In this paper, we focus on section 4 of the CDIO Syllabus 2.0, and in particular, sections 4.3-4.6. The breakdown of each of the Conceiving, Designing, Implementing, and Operating steps is analyzed and compared against programming and computational thinking frameworks and design processes. This information is then used to adapt the Conceive, Design, Implement, and Operate steps to teach computational thinking concepts to university level students in education, as well as in-service teachers. The proposed technique provides a framework for teachers to create their own computational thinking activities at the elementary level, and for elementary students to move through the CDIO steps as they complete such activities.

Four example activities are detailed in this paper: two with the use of computers, and two without. These activities include solving mazes, creating dances, using MIT’s Scratch programming language to write a story, and creating digital artwork with the Processing programming language. Activities were designed to provide maximum coverage of the identified computational thinking concepts, practices, and perspectives. Once the activities were finalized, they were mapped against the modified CDIO framework. The paper explores the questions that need to be asked and the steps taken to work through each of the Conceive, Design, Implement, and Operate steps to end with a finished product. It is important that the CDIO steps are not only accessible for the teachers as they complete the activities in a workshop setting, but that they are appropriate for students aged 6-12.

Elementary teachers will be introduced to the modified CDIO framework and the activities using a mix of online modules and an in-person workshop session. A mixed methods approach will be used to analyze pre- and post-surveys, as well as written reflections and interviews. The goal is to see how this modified CDIO framework and the provided activities have changed teacher perceptions of computational thinking, programming, and engineering design. As well, the written reflections and interview questions will provide insight into how the modified CDIO framework helped them to learn and teach the computational thinking material.

This work is currently in progress, and the paper will detail preliminary results and conclusions as constrained by workshop participation and data collected in the time allowed.

Proceedings of the 13th International CDIO Conference in Calgary, Canada, June 18-22 2017

Authors (New): 
Stephanie Hladik
Laleh Behjat
Anders Nygren
University of Calgary, Canada
Computational thinking
design thinking
CDIO Standard 1
CDIO Standard 3
CDIO Standard 5
CDIO Standard 7
CDIO Standard 8
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