The Code-Centric Nature of Computational Thinking Education: A Review of Trends and Issues in Computational Thinking Education Research
Computational thinking (CT) is being recognized as a critical component of student success in the digital era. Many contend that integrating CT into core curricula is the surest method for providing all students with access to CT. However, the CT community lacks an agreed-upon conceptualization of CT that would facilitate this integration, and little effort has been made to critically analyze and synthesize research on CT/content integration (CTCI). Conflicting CT conceptualizations and little understanding of evidence-based strategies for CTCI could result in significant barriers to increasing students’ access to CT. To address these concerns, we analyzed 80 studies on CT education, focusing on both the CT conceptualizations guiding current CT education research and evidence-based strategies for CTCI. Our review highlights the code-centric nature of CT education and reveals significant gaps in our understanding of CTCI and CT professional development for teachers. Based on these findings we propose an approach to operationalizing CT that promotes students’ participation in CT, present promising methods for infusing content with CT, and discuss future directions for CT education research.