Toolbox for adopting computational thinking through learning Flash

Saari, Erni Marlina (2018) Toolbox for adopting computational thinking through learning Flash. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The need for teachers of Elementary School children to learn to program or rather to understand the Computational Thinking behind programming has been accelerated in many countries by the mandated teaching of programming in the Elementary School context. Many steps have been taken in order to create awareness of this issue, such as the Computing At Schools initiative (CAS) which is established in the UK. CAS aims to support teaching in computing and connected fields in UK schools. Moreover, in the USA the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) was established to meet the purpose of informing and advising about the current development of computational thinking and to investigate and disseminate teaching and learning resources related to computational thinking. In Singapore research has been conducted by the government agency Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) whereby the major goal is to meet the needs in the ICT sector and ultimately to focus and inspire learners about programming.

The research for this thesis involves the development of a training scheme for pre-service teachers that will introduce them to computational thinking through the use of the Flash Action Script Development environment. Flash Action Scripts – amongst several other tools – are used as a tool for creating interactive content and because Flash is one of the premiere tools used to create content for the internet; a tool programmed with Flash looks practically the same in every browser and on every operating system. Flash Action scripts use traditional coding skills but permit the user to see how each piece of code affects the running or execution of the program, allowing the user to have an instant visual understanding of what the code is doing. It is also widely available within university campuses.

A major problem in promoting the teaching of programming and computational thinking to Elementary School teachers is that the majority of such teachers have no concept of how to program and naturally are not motivated to learn programming. Experienced teachers involved in the current study felt that programming was too complicated and thus it was hard to gain fluency in programming. Student teachers who had no previous experience in programming were, however, easier to get engaged in learning programming principles. Eighty percent of this group found Action Scripting a useful tool to understand basic programming and scripting. The need to teach programming will motivate most but to learn through a tool that can be seen to have intrinsic value in their role as teachers has a greater potential of success. This thesis defines the design and implementation of a tool to use the learning of Flash Action Scripting as a motivational mechanism for pre-service teachers. The intrinsic value to them is intended to be utilisation of the learned Action Scripting skills to produce their own teaching material. Initial results indicate an enhanced engagement and motivation to learn to program and improved confidence in doing so. As projected the pre-service teachers had a more positive attitude towards the potential of the learning tool but both they and the in-service teachers had improved attitudes and enthusiasm after the experiment. The results show that both pre-service and in-service teachers can be trained to be designers and producers of digital courseware in the previous absence of computational thinking skills and definitely they can acquire skills in computer programming such as Flash Action Scripts.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Blanchfield, Peter
Hopkins, Gail
Keywords: programming skills, education, learning, flash action scripts, computing, computational thinking
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 53768
Depositing User: Saari, Erni
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2019 11:31
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2020 08:23

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