Lye, S. Y., & Koh, J. H. L. (2014). Review on teaching and learning of computational thinking through programming: What is next for K-12? Computers in Human Behavior, 41, 51-61.


Type: Review Article

Purpose: A review of 27 intervention studies on current trends in computational thinking through programming (with implications). Answering questions on 1) how programming has been incorporated in the K-12 curricula, 2) what outcomes of student performance have been reported, and 3) what interventions are being used to promote computational thinking.

Findings: Programming has been incorporated with languages and math. Programming in Scratch helped language students with composition skills and creating language arts projects. In math, students externalized math concepts in Toontalk. As for outcomes, most studies focused on computational concepts (variables, loops) and how students were learning them. Working on part-complete solutions and reviewing comments on programming examples helped weaker students. Pair-programming with stronger students further helped. Computational perspectives incorporated students' own understanding of themselves and how they relate to others in the technical world. Students expressed themselves through interactive media - high-ability students expressed themselves in Toontalk and middle-ability students did so in Scratch through digital stories. Interventions in the reviewed studies focused on reinforcement of computational concepts, reflection, information processing, and constructing own programs.

Recommendations: More K-12 intervention studies should focus on computational practices and computational perspectives. Students should verbalize their thinking and their on-screen programing could be captured/analyzed. Instructional implications -- the authors propose that a constructionist problem solving learning environment be fostered, with information processing, scaffolding and reflection activities. Qualitative analyses could be done based on predetermined categories in past and current research.


Sample Size: 27

Participant Type: K-12 students and higher education students.

Notes: These are 27 research studies in the sample (not individuals). The paper is a literature review. Some studies in the sample included hearing impaired students. Higher education research studies are included in the sample as interventions in higher education could inform interventions for earlier ages.