Dwyer, H., Hill, C., Carpenter, S., Harlow, D., & Franklin, D. (2014, March). Identifying elementary students' pre-instructional ability to develop algorithms and step-by-step instructions. In Proceedings of the 45th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (pp. 511-516). New York: ACM.


Type: Empirical

Purpose: The authors "present our detailed findings of what fourth graders know before encountering a computational thinking curriculum" (p. 1).

Findings: "We have shown initial results from in-depth focus groups. These focus groups informed three lower anchor points for the learning progressions of two CSTA K-12 strands and how that knowledge informed our pilot curriculum. We found that students could analyze existing directions for deficiencies, and their analysis led to incrementally better directions, but they were unable to produce thorough, precise instructions themselves. Finally, students were able to solve a small instance of a problem, but they had difficulty describing a working algorithm when the problem was scaled. In addition, they often focused on accelerating the mechanics of the operation rather than the algorithm itself" (p. 6).



Sample Size: 55

Participant Type: students

Notes: 4th graders