The Development of Computational Thinking in Student Teachers through an Intervention with Educational Robotics

Francesc M Esteve-Mon, Jordi Adell-Segura, María Ángeles Llopis Nebot, Gracia Valdeolivas Novella, Julio Pacheco Aparicio
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 18  •  2019  •  pp. 139-152

This research aims to describe and demonstrate the results of an intervention through educational robotics to improve the computational thinking of student teachers.

Educational robotics has been increasing in school classrooms for the development of computational thinking and digital competence. However, there is a lack of research on how to prepare future teachers of Kindergarten and Elementary School in the didactic use of computational thinking, as part of their necessary digital teaching competence.

Following the Design-Based Research methodology, we designed an intervention with educational robots that includes unplugged, playing, making and remixing activities. Participating in this study were 114 Spanish university students of education.

This research helps to improve the initial training of student teachers, especially in the field of educational robotics.

The student teachers consider themselves digital competent, especially in the dimensions related to social and multimedia aspects, and to a lesser extent in the technological dimension. The results obtained also confirm the effectiveness of the intervention through educational robotics in the development of computational thinking of these students, especially among male students.

Teacher trainers could introduce robotics following these steps: (1) initiation and unplugged activities, (2) gamified activities of initiation to the programming and test of the robots, (3) initiation activities to Scratch, and (4) design and resolution of a challenge.

Researchers could examine how interventions with educational robots helps to improve the computational thinking of student teachers, and thoroughly analyze gender-differences.

Computational thinking and robotics are one of the emerging educational trends. Despite the rise of this issue, there are still few investigations that systematize and collect evidence in this regard. This study allows to visualize an educational intervention that favors the development of the computational thinking of student teachers.

Researchers could evaluate not only the computational thinking of student teachers, but also their didactics, their ability to teach or create didactic activities to develop computational thinking in their future students.

computational thinking, educational robotics, digital competence, student teachers
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