Computational thinking (CT) is an organized way of thinking that helps children communicate step-by-step how to solve a problem or complete a goal. CT skills can help build children’s executive function and growth mindset and support their coding and computer programming learning later on. Yet, as a field, we are still learning about how early childhood teachers can integrate support for children’s CT learning into activities.
EDC and WGBH investigated an approach to using children’s stories—featuring repetitive, predictable patterns—to support preschoolers in applying the core ideas of CT while developing their narrative skills. Working with children and teachers in urban preschools, the team conducted formative research on a learning intervention titled The Story Emporium, which blends digital technology, whole-group activities, and small-group activities to foster computational literacy (CL).
The project team completed the following key activities:
- Developed a model of the project’s pedagogical foundation
- Hosted a forum of experts to explore how to integrate CT concepts into preschool literacy instruction
- Conducted formative research on how to support preschool children’s CL development and teachers’ instructional practices while iteratively developing and testing a six-week learning intervention
- Created methods for evaluating children’s CL
- Conducted a six-week pilot study to investigate the promise of the intervention in cultivating preschoolers’ CL and narrative competence
- Shared findings in a wide range of publications and venues, including Edutopia and the National Science Foundation STEM For All Video Showcase
Findings from this educational research and development project provide the following:
- New insights into how to increase the number and diversity of children who are computationally literate and who may develop an interest in computing later in their education
- Developmentally appropriate learning resources for young children, helping to set a standard for high-quality, research-based approaches to preschool CL
WGBH Educational Foundation