Leveraging Robot Programming to Foster Computational Thinking
El Ioini N
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In 2013, ACM recognized Computational Thinking (CT) as “one of the fundamental skills desired of all graduates”. This means that, especially in liberal education environments, one of the challenges of CT courses is to motivate students who are discouraged upfront as they perceive programming as a difficult task. Applications that have tangible results typically stimulate students’ interests. For instance, Educational Robotics (ER) is recognized as a tool to enhance higher order thinking skills and to facilitate teamwork. In this paper, we describe a course that has been designed to use ER (i.e., programming a maze-solving robot) to foster CT. Each activity of the course has been designed to foster specific CT skills and to contribute to CT assessment, which remains a challenge in CT research. We report the results of an experiment, in a liberal education environment, with a total of 13 ninth graders (15.4% M, 84.6% F).