PPIG 2014 - 25th Annual Workshop
Exploring Core Cognitive Skills of Computational Thinking
Ana Paula Ambrosio, Leandro da Silva Almeida, Joaquim Macedo, Amanda Franco
Abstract: Although still innovative and not largely disseminated, Computational Thinking is being considered as a critical skill for students in the 21st century. It involves many skills, but programming abilities seem to be a core aspect since they foster the development of a new way of thinking that is key to the solution of problems that require a combination of human mental power and computing power capacity. This paper presents an exploratory study developed to select psychological assessment tests that can be used to identify and measure Computational Thinking cognitive processes, associated to the programming component, so that strategies can be developed to promote it. After the literature review, we identified four central cognitive processes implied in programming, therefore important to Computational Thinking, and accordingly selected a set of four tests that were administered to a sample of 12 introductory programming students. Our results suggest that spatial reasoning and general intelligence are crucial dimensions for introductory programming, being also correlated to the students’ academic success in this area. However, arithmetic reasoning and attention to detail tests did not correlate. Based on these results, directions for future research have been defined in order to effectively identify and develop the core cognitive processes of programming, ergo, to help develop Computational Thinking.