Analyzing Current Visual Tools and Methodologies of Computer Programming Teaching in Primary Education

Analyzing Current Visual Tools and Methodologies of Computer Programming Teaching in Primary Education

Serhat Altiok (Kırıkkale University, Turkey) and Erman Yükseltürk (Kırıkkale University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3200-2.ch011


In our age, computational thinking that involves understanding human behavior and designing systems for solving problems is important as much as reading, writing and arithmetic for everyone. Computer programming is one of the ways that could be promote the process of developing computational thinking, in addition to developing higher-order thinking skills such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking skills etc. However, instead of focusing on problems and sub-problems, algorithms, or the most effective and efficient solution, focusing on programming language specific needs and problems affects the computational thinking process negatively. Many educators use different tools and pedagogical approaches to overcome these difficulties such as, individual work, collaborative work and visual programming tools etc. In this study, researchers analyze four visual programming tools (Scratch, Small Basic, Alice, App Inventor) for students in K-12 level and three methodologies (Project-based learning, Problem-based learning and Design-based learning) while teaching programming in K-12 level. In summary, this chapter presents general description of visual programming tools and pedagogical approaches, examples of how each tool can be used in programming education in accordance with the CT process and the probable benefits of these tools and approaches to explore the practices of computational thinking.
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The Digital Age

The technology that provides the opportunity to overcome the all challenges in life have progressed and become more diverse caused by an explosion of information (Sanford & Naidu, 2016). In recent years, best practices of technologies have found new audiences with increasingly children from smartphones and tablet computers to electronic learning toys (Bers, Flannery, Kazakoff, & Sullivan, 2014). As a result of this, it is expected that today’s children have the knowledge and skills about these technologies and also use them effectively in their lives (Kuzu, Günüç, & Odabaşı, 2013). In other words, the 21st century children need to be versatile and adaptable not only modern and future technologies but also need to improve the ability of understand and work with these technologies (Saeli, Perrenet, Jochems, & Zwaneveld, 2011). Furthermore, in addition to these knowledge and abilities, 21st century children are expected to have some requirements related to the rapid development of technology such as information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy and code literacy etc., basic skills such as critical thinking, analyzing and synthesizing ability etc. and personal qualities such as work collaboratively, being innovative and being productive etc. (Kay & Greenhill, 2011). Therefore, 21st century educators have to prepare today’s students to develop these requirements, skills, personal qualities and knowledge in order to survive and effectively cope with the technological challenges of this century (Angeli et al., 2016).

21st Century Children and Primary Education

All of today’s individuals have influenced by technology every minute from birth to death. This indicates that the educational life of the individual will be heavily influenced by technology. The one of the important stages of the educational life is primary education that is the first stage of compulsory education and provided by the state in almost all countries around the world, coming between pre-primary education and secondary education. Countries have variations in the age range of compulsory education. For example, compulsory education requires nine years (6 to 15 ages) in Austria, China, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, Slovenia and Switzerland; requires ten years (6 to 16 ages) in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, requires ten years (5 to 18). Also, there is a difference in the beginning and ending ages (e.g. Beginning ages varies between 5 to 8, ending age varies between 15 to 18 in United States, Finland prefer ± 1 year in the beginning and ending ages), framework of grades (e.g. Norway provides compulsory education without grades first seven years) and duration of compulsory education between not only countries, but also different states or cantons in the same country. Furthermore, although some countries such as Belgium, United Kingdom education is compulsory, school is not compulsory (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2016; National Center for Education Statistics, 2015; Snyder & Dillow, 2012). In Turkey, primary education involves training of children in the grades of 1 to 8 (6 to 14 ages). The first four grades of the primary education are referred to as “First School” or “First Level” and second four grades of the primary education is referred to as “Middle School” or “Second Level”. There are core and track subjects at first and second level in primary education in all countries such as mathematics, science, social science, language and communication (Ministry of Education, 2012; Sağlam, 2014). Although these lecture-based subjects provide to students’ knowledge and skills (e.g. thinking, understanding and reasoning), they need to developed higher-order thinking skills such as critical, logical, reflective, metacognitive, and creative thinking (King, Goodson, & Rohani, 2010). For improve these skills, not only should core subjects should be integrated with each other but also Information Technologies (IT) lesson with properties such as student-centered, problem-based, or project-based must be utilized more effectively.

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