Computational thinking and problem solving are basic skills in learning STEM disciplines. They are essential for the professional and social development of personal background. Different technologies promote the development of these transversal skills: one of them is an Advanced Computing Environment (ACE). This allows performing numerical and symbolic computations, creating two- and three-dimensional graphs, writing procedures and programming interactive components in order to generalize the resolution process and to show how results vary depending on the input parameters. Moreover, an ACE allows the creation of animated graphical representations by generalizing static graphs and by choosing a parameter to vary and its range. In solving contextualized problems with an ACE, differences between computational thinking and problem solving decrease. The research questions are the following. How can the programming of interactive components with an ACE promote the development of computational thinking? What different programming strategies can be adopted when creating static or animated plots? How do these strategies differ from those adopted in programming interactive components? In order to answer these questions, this paper analyses a workshop that involved students with basic experience in the use of the ACE. The workshop was held in four two-hour long meetings dedicated to twenty-eight 10th grade students of an Italian upper secondary school. The workshop was about using an ACE to generalize mathematical processes through the solving of contextualized problems. The mathematical content was agreed upon with the teacher, in order to include the workshop into the school curriculum. In the first three meetings, students were asked to program a static stickman through the combination of different graphic objects (lines, line segments, circles). The subsequent task assigned consisted in animating an arm of the stickman by creating an animated plot and programming an interactive components system. In the last meeting, students had to solve a contextualized problem concerning linear motion. Students had to program an animation to represent the solution and to generalize it through interactive components. During the workshop, students were observed in order to identify frequent errors and widespread misconceptions. They were asked not to erase mistakes form their worksheets, in order to carry out a subsequent complete study of their tasks. At the end of the last meeting, students were asked to take a final survey. Research methods included the analysis of the final worksheet carried out by each student during the first three meetings, the solutions given to the contextualized problem, and the final survey. Results show that programming systems of interactive components promotes computational thinking in different ways. The activity of studying and comparing the use of similar instructions for different purposes (creating static plots, creating animated plots, and programming interactive components) showed that using an ACE promoted the development of several programming strategies. Answers given to the final survey displayed that activities such as deployment of technologies and contextualized problems are more appreciated than traditional lessons, and that animations and interactive components support students in the solving process, increasing their motivation to deal with theoretical topics.

Computational thinking and problem solving in programming interactive components and creating animated plot by using an ACE in STEM

Fissore, Cecilia;Genovese Alessio;Marchisio, Marina;Pulvirenti, Marta
2020

Abstract

Computational thinking and problem solving are basic skills in learning STEM disciplines. They are essential for the professional and social development of personal background. Different technologies promote the development of these transversal skills: one of them is an Advanced Computing Environment (ACE). This allows performing numerical and symbolic computations, creating two- and three-dimensional graphs, writing procedures and programming interactive components in order to generalize the resolution process and to show how results vary depending on the input parameters. Moreover, an ACE allows the creation of animated graphical representations by generalizing static graphs and by choosing a parameter to vary and its range. In solving contextualized problems with an ACE, differences between computational thinking and problem solving decrease. The research questions are the following. How can the programming of interactive components with an ACE promote the development of computational thinking? What different programming strategies can be adopted when creating static or animated plots? How do these strategies differ from those adopted in programming interactive components? In order to answer these questions, this paper analyses a workshop that involved students with basic experience in the use of the ACE. The workshop was held in four two-hour long meetings dedicated to twenty-eight 10th grade students of an Italian upper secondary school. The workshop was about using an ACE to generalize mathematical processes through the solving of contextualized problems. The mathematical content was agreed upon with the teacher, in order to include the workshop into the school curriculum. In the first three meetings, students were asked to program a static stickman through the combination of different graphic objects (lines, line segments, circles). The subsequent task assigned consisted in animating an arm of the stickman by creating an animated plot and programming an interactive components system. In the last meeting, students had to solve a contextualized problem concerning linear motion. Students had to program an animation to represent the solution and to generalize it through interactive components. During the workshop, students were observed in order to identify frequent errors and widespread misconceptions. They were asked not to erase mistakes form their worksheets, in order to carry out a subsequent complete study of their tasks. At the end of the last meeting, students were asked to take a final survey. Research methods included the analysis of the final worksheet carried out by each student during the first three meetings, the solutions given to the contextualized problem, and the final survey. Results show that programming systems of interactive components promotes computational thinking in different ways. The activity of studying and comparing the use of similar instructions for different purposes (creating static plots, creating animated plots, and programming interactive components) showed that using an ACE promoted the development of several programming strategies. Answers given to the final survey displayed that activities such as deployment of technologies and contextualized problems are more appreciated than traditional lessons, and that animations and interactive components support students in the solving process, increasing their motivation to deal with theoretical topics.
EDULEARN20 12th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Online
6th - 7th of July, 2020
Conference Proceedings of EDULEARN20 12th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
IATED Academy
8173
8183
978-84-09-17979-4
Advanced Computing Environment, Computational Thinking, Problem Solving, STEM Education, Upper Secondary Schools.
Fissore, Cecilia; Genovese Alessio; Marchisio, Marina; Pulvirenti, Marta
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1761135
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