Practicing Formative Assessment for Computational Thinking in Making Environments
Making activities and environments have been shown to foster the development of computational thinking (CT) skills for students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subject areas. To properly cultivate CT skills and the related dispositions, educators must understand students’ needs and build awareness of how CT informs a deeper understanding of the academic content area. “Assessing Computational Thinking in Maker Activities” (ACTMA) is a design-based research study that developed a curricular unit around physics, making, and CT. The project in this paper studied how instructors could use formative assessment to uncover students’ prior knowledge and improve their use of CT. This study aims to provide a qualitative analysis of one lesson in the unit implementation of an informal makerspace environment that strived to be culturally responsive. The study examined “moments of notice,” or instances where formative assessment could guide students’ understanding of CT. We found elements in the establishment of a classroom culture that can generate a continual use of informal formative assessment between instructors and students. This culture includes using materials in conjunction with the promotion of CT concepts and dispositions, focusing on drawing for understanding, the practice of debugging, and fluidity of roles in the learning space.
KeywordsComputational thinking Physics Engineering STEM k12 Assessment Formative assessment Makerspaces Maker movement
We would like to thank the students and mentors who participated in the study for the time and effort they dedicated.
Research on this project was developed with support from the National Science Foundation (1543124). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Basawapatna, A. R., Koh, K. H., & Repenning, A. (2010). Using scalable game design to teach computer science from middle school to graduate school. Proceedings of the fifteenth annual conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education - ITiCSE 10. https://doi.org/10.1145/1822090.1822154
- Bell, A. W., & Purdy, D. (1985). Diagnostic teaching: Some problems of directionality. Nottingham: Shell Centre for Mathematical Education, University of Nottingham.Google Scholar
- Bell, B., Bell, N., & Cowie, B. (2001). Formative assessment and science education (Vol. 12). Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.Google Scholar
- Blikstein, P. (2013). Digital fabrication and ‘making’ in education: The democratization of invention. In J. Walter-Herrmann & C. Büching (Eds.), FabLabs: Of Machines, Makers and Inventors (pp. 1–21). Bielefeld: Transcript Publishers.Google Scholar
- Brady, C., Orton, K., Weintrop, D., Anton, G., Rodriguez, S., & Wilensky, U. (2016). All Roads Lead to Computing: Making, Participatory Simulations, and Social Computing as Pathways to Computer Science. IEEE Transactions on Education, 60, 1.Google Scholar
- Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Brennan, K. & Resnick, M. (2012). New frameworks for studying and assessing the development of computational thinking. Retrieved August 12, 2016, from http://web.media.mit.edu/~kbrennan/files/Brennan_Resnick_AERA2012_CT.pdf.
- Bruner, J. S. (1960). The Process of education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Bruner, J. S. (1981). The social context of language acquisition. Language & Communication. Google Scholar
- Cavalcanti, G. (2013). Is it a Hackerspace, Makerspace, TechShop, or FabLab? Make Magazine (May 22, 2013). Available from: http://makerzine.com/2013/05/22/the-difference-between-hackerpaces-makerspaces-techshops-and-fablabls/.
- Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1988). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser, 18, 32–42.Google Scholar
- Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Csizmadia, A., Curzon, P., Dorling, M., Humphreys, S., Ng, T., Selby, C., & Woolard, J. (2015) Computational thinking - A guide for teachers. Retrieved from http://community.computingatschoo.org.uk.resources/2324.
- Farrington, C. A., Roderick, M., Allensworth, E., Nagaoka, J., Keyes, T. S., Johnson, D. W., & Beechum, N. O. (2012). Teaching adolescents to become learners. The role of non-cognitive factors in shaping school performance: A critical literature review. Chicago: University of Chicago Consortium of Chicago School Research.Google Scholar
- Fields, D. A., & King, W. L. (2014). “So, I think I'm a programmer now.” Developing connected learning for adults in a university craft technologies course. In J. L. Polman et al. (Eds.), Learning and Becoming in Practice: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2014 (Vol. 1, pp. 927–936). Boulder: International Society of the Learning Sciences.Google Scholar
- Furtak, E. M., & Ruiz-Primo, M. A. (2007) Studying the effectiveness of four types of formative assessment prompts in providing information about students’ understanding in writing and discussions. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
- Harel, I. E., & Papert, S. E. (1991). Constructionism. Norwood: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
- Heritage, M. (2010). Formative assessment and next-generation assessment systems: Are we losing an opportunity? Paper prepared for the Council of Chief State School Officers. Los Angeles: University of California, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. Retrieved from http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2010/Formative_Assessment_Next_Generation_2010.pdf.
- Herold, B. (2016). The maker movement in K-12 education: A guide to emerging research. Education Week. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2016/04/maker_movement_in_k-12_education_research.html.
- Hudesman, J., Crosby, S., Flugman, B., Issac, S., Everson, H., & Clay, D. B. (2013). Using formative assessment and metacognition to improve student achievement. Journal of Developmental Education, 37(1), 2.Google Scholar
- International Society for Technology in Education & Computer Science Teachers Association. (2011). Operational Definition of Computational Thinking for K-12 Education. Retrieved from http://csta.acm.org/Curriculum/sub/CurrFiles/CompThinkingFlyer.pdf.
- Litts, B. (2015). Making learning: Makerspaces as learning environments Retrieved from http://www.informalscience.org/sites/default/files/Litts_2015_Dissertation_Published.pdf.
- Martin, F. (2018). Rethinking Computational Thinking. Retrieved April 13, 2018, from http://advocate.csteachers.org/2018/02/17/rethinking-computational-thinking/.
- Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn. Torrance: Constructing modern knowledge press.Google Scholar
- Moreno, R., Reisslein, M., & Ozogul, G. (2009). Pre-college electrical engineering instruction: Do abstract or contextualized representations promote better learning?. In Frontiers in Education Conference, 2009. FIE'09. 39th IEEE (pp. 1-6). IEEE.Google Scholar
- National Research Council. (2004). Computer Science: Reflections on the Field, Reflections from the Field. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- National Research Council. (2014). STEM integration in K-12 education: Status, prospects, and an agenda for research. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Next Generation Science Standards Lead States (NGSS). (2013). Next generation science standards: for states, by states. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Pea, R. D. (1993). Practices of distributed intelligence and designs for education. Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations, 11, 47–87.Google Scholar
- Shavelson, R. J., Yin, Y., Furtak, E. M., Ruiz-Primo, M. A., & Ayala, C. C. (2008). On the role and impact of formative assessment on science inquiry teaching and learning. In J. Coffey, R. Douglas, & C. Stearns (Eds.), Assessing science learning: Perspectives from research and practice (pp. 21–36). Arlington: National Science Teachers Association Press.Google Scholar
- Stake, R. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Tang, X., Yin, Y., Lin, Q., & Hadad, R. (2018). Assessing computational thinking: A systematic review of the literature. Poster presented at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), New York, NY.Google Scholar
- Tarkan, S., Sazawal, V., Druin, A., Golub, E., Bonsignore, E. M., Walsh, G., & Atrash, Z. (2010, April). Toque: Designing a cooking-based programming language for and with children. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2417–2426). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
- Tierney, J. (2015). The Dilemmas of maker culture. Thinking through the consequences of the proliferation of powerful tools and technologies. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/04/the-dilemmas-of-maker-culture/390891/.
- Touretzky, D. S., Marghitu, D., Ludi, S., Bernstein, D., & Ni, L. (2013, March). Accelerating K-12 computational thinking using scaffolding, staging, and abstraction. In Proceeding of the 44th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (pp. 609–614). New York: ACM.Google Scholar