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Computational Thinking in High School subjects

Digital technologies challenge the way we think, experience, comprehend, and organize the world. They interact with our structures of society in ways such as legally, economically, democratically, and scientifically. People who do not understand the grounds for digitization will be increasingly posed as people in previous centuries who could not read or write.

The main purpose of this project is to demonstrate that computational thinking (CT) can and ought to be integrated in a wide variety of existing subjects in high school. Furthermore, it is the purpose of the project to establish a platform for future work on CT in subjects, reaching beyond this project. In the project a new approach to integrate CT with high school subjects have been developed and resulted in a CMC framework. The framework combines Coding, Modeling, and Content in learning activities. Within the CMC framework, learning activities of short duration, have been developed, tested, and evaluated. The learning activities combines subject matter with elements of CT, asking the students to work with a computer model simulating a phenomenon in a specific subject and to work with the computational code behind the model.

The design of the didactical principles is based on international research in the programming environment NetLogo. The design is expected to be applied to other subjects and types of education.

Six computer models and six learning activities have been developed: three in social science, two in biology/biotechnology and one in chemistry.

Testing and evaluating the activities involved both teachers (n=15) and students (n=210). The evaluation clearly shows that the didactical principles works well for both teachers and students. The students gain a wider understanding of the connection between coding, modeling, and subject matter, while gaining increased insights into the phenomenon. The teachers feel comfortable working with the programming environment and gains the insight to suggest new and meaningful ideas for developing new models. 

The work has been a collaboration between nine high schools in the central region of Jytland (Region Midtjylland), Center for Computational Thinking and Design (CCTD) at Aarhus University, and IT-Vest.

The models together with descriptions of the learning activities, are available in Danish by following the links below:

As the project developed, a collaboration with Prof. Uri Wilensky, Center for Connected Learning and Computer-based Modeling (CCL), Northwestern University and with Deborah Tatar, Third Lab, Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, has been established. This has highly inspired and qualified the work on both the development of the models and the learning activities.

The project has been presented on national conferences. 

Building on the promising results from this project, collaborations are expected during 2018 concerning larger and longer projects of implementing CT I high school education through teachers training and dissimilation of the CMC framework.

Project facts

Short project intro

The main purpose of this project is to demonstrate that computational thinking (CT) can and ought to be integrated in a wide variety of existing subjects in high school. The CMC framework, developed during the project, is a framework for future work, integrating Coding, Modeling, and Content in learning activities.

  • Six models and teaching units have been developed, tested, and evaluated.
  • 210 students and 15 teachers participated in the study coming from nine different high schools. 

A report describing the outcomes of the project can be read here.

Contact project lead

Line Have Musaeus

Postdoc Department of Computer Science