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Impact of Infusing Computational Thinking into English Dialogue Learning
Xiaojing Weng, Gary Wong

Last modified: 2017-05-11

Abstract


The rise of computational thinking concepts in 2006 by Wing served as a trigger for the scientist and educators to rethink the kinds of ability students supposed to have in this technological era. Though there are still controversies among researchers concerning to the boundary issues of computational thinking (Weintrop et al., 2016), most people come to the agreement that computational thinking refers to the core competencies, including algorithm (acts step by step), decomposing (make a complex problem into small similar ones), abstraction (generalize models or patterns), automation (use computer to solve problems), data mining (collect and analysis data), debugging (correct the mistake) and creativity (represent new ideas ) which rooted in the Computer Science (Voogt, Fisser, Good, Mishra, & Yadav, 2015).

As more and more technology devices are applied in people’s daily life and the speedy development of e-learning environment instruction, computational thinking is drawing attention from researchers and educators in different aspects. However, less attempt has been done to explore the impact of connecting computational thinking with the dominant subjects, for example, mathematics, language, physics, to search the potential of how computational thinking can benefit students from a wider and deeper scope. This research serves as a practice to investigate students’ cognitive changes through infusing computational thinking into the core subject class in order to demonstrate the feasibility of applying computational thinking beyond the traditional Computer Science domains. In addition, some approaches on how to improve the future learning design for computational thinking interacted class will also be suggested in this research.

To develop computational thinking for every student we should focus beyond Computer Science related subjects. In this research we designed a project which infuses computational thinking into a standard English dialogue learning class for the 8th graders who have already learned how to tell stories by using Scratch. The research result may show we can motivate students to build the confidence towards computational thinking even though at the beginning of the project they regarded computational thinking as an abstract high level skill and it was difficult to adopt computational thinking in their study. Through the cooperation work of the English teacher and Computer Science teacher in a middle school, students learn the similarities of storytelling and computational thinking concepts. The English teacher combines English dialogue learning with Scratch in order to infuse computational thinking into students’ learning practice. In this case, students are endowed with a stage where they can edit their own English dialogues, record voice, set context and make animations in Scratch to improve their storytelling ability.