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 little is known about how early childhood teachers can integrate support for children’s CT learning into activities.
EDC and WGBH are designing, piloting, and examining 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 is conducting 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 is pursuing the following key activities:
- Develop a model of the project’s pedagogical foundation
- Host a forum of experts to explore how to integrate CT concepts into preschool literacy instruction
- Conduct 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
- Develop methods for evaluating children’s CL
- Conduct a six-week pilot study to investigate the promise of the intervention in cultivating preschoolers’ CL and narrative competence
- Share 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 will provide:
- 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 computational literacy
WGBH Educational Foundation