Assessing Algorithmic Thinking Skills in Early Childhood Education: Evaluation in Physical and Natural Science Courses

Assessing Algorithmic Thinking Skills in Early Childhood Education: Evaluation in Physical and Natural Science Courses

Kalliopi Kanaki (University of Crete, Greece), Michail Kalogiannakis (University of Crete, Greece) and Dimitrios Stamovlasis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4576-8.ch005


This chapter presents part of a wider project aimed at developing computational thinking assessment instruments for first and second grade primary school students. The applicability of the specific proposed tool, which concerns merely the algorithmic thinking (AT), was tested within the Environmental Study course (ESc). The main pillar of the work is the computational environment PhysGramming. The assessment of AT was based on mental tasks involving puzzles which require AT abilities. The AT test comprised of four puzzles with 4, 6, 9, and 12 pieces respectively, and the puzzle-solving performance was measured at the nominal level (success/failure). Latent class analysis (LCA), a robust multivariate method for categorical data, was implemented, which distinguished two clusters/latent classes corresponding to two distinct levels of AT. Moreover, LCA with covariates, such as gender, grade, achievement in ESc, and the use of plan revealed the association of the above variables with the AT skill-levels. Finally, the results and their implications for theory and practice are discussed.
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In this section, the authors present a literature review on theoretical issues that elucidate relevant concepts on CT and its dimensions, and support the construction of the proposed assessment tool. Specifically, the review elaborates issues on AT and on the integration of studying physical and natural sciences into compulsory education, as the research was carried out within the context of the ESc. Other scientific areas that are fundamental for this research and have been the subject of the literature review are game-based learning, computer programming and student assessment.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Early Childhood Education: Formal and informal education provided to children from birth up to the age of eight.

Computational Thinking: A process by which fundamental principles of computer science are employed in order to solve problems, design systems and understand human behavior.

Physical Science: The systematic study of non-living systems.

Natural Science: The systematic study of living systems.

Game-Based Learning: Learning derived from the use of games.

Mobile Learning: Education or training facilitated be portable devices such as smartphones and/or tablets.

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