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The Computer Science Teachers Association has asserted that computational thinking equips students with essential critical thinking which allows them to conceptualize, analyze, and solve more complex problems. These skills are applicable to all content area as students learn to use strategies, ideas, and technological practices more effectively as digital natives. This research examined over 200 elementary students’ pre- and posttest changes in computational thinking from a 10-week coding program using adapted lessons from’s Blockly programming language and CSUnplugged that were delivered as part of the regular school day. Participants benefited from early access to computer science (CS) lessons with increases in computational thinking and applying coding concepts to the real world. Interviews from participants included examples of CS connections to everyday life and interdisciplinary studies at school. Thus, the study highlights the importance of leveraging CS access in diverse elementary classrooms to promote young students’ computational thinking; motivation in CS topics; and the learning of essential soft-skills such as collaboration, persistence, abstraction, and creativity to succeed in today’s digital world.


Originally published in The Journal of Educational Computing Research, volume: 57 issue: 1, page(s): 3-31, 2018.

DOI: 10.1177/0735633117743918

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