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Exploring and comparing computational thinking skills in students who take GCSE Computer Science and those who do not

Gillott, Lauren, Joyce-Gibbons, Andrew and Hidson, Elizabeth (2020) Exploring and comparing computational thinking skills in students who take GCSE Computer Science and those who do not. International Journal of Computer Science Education in Schools, 3 (4). pp. 3-22. ISSN 2513-8359

Item Type: Article


This study compares computational thinking skills evidenced by two groups of students in two different secondary schools: one group per school was studying a qualification in Computer Science. The aim was to establish which elements of computational thinking were more prevalent in students studying Computer Science to a higher level. This in turn would evidence those elements likely to be present from their earlier computing education or through their complementary studies in Science or Mathematics, which all students also studied. Understanding this difference was important to identify any increased competence in computational thinking that was present in the Computer Science groups. Interviews involved a set of questions and a maze activity designed to elicit the sixteen students’ computational thinking skills based on the Brennan and Resnick (2012) model of computational concepts, practices and perspectives. Analysis of students’ responses showed surprisingly little difference between the computational thinking practices of the two groups in relation to abstraction, decomposition, evaluation, generalisation/reusing, logical reasoning and debugging/testing. The study concludes that general computational thinking skills can be developed either at a lower level of study or in cognate curriculum areas, leaving computer science as the rightful locus of computational thinking for automation.

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Depositing User: Elizabeth Hidson


Item ID: 12008
Identification Number:
ISSN: 2513-8359
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Elizabeth Hidson: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 11 May 2020 11:06
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 11:02


Author: Elizabeth Hidson ORCID iD
Author: Lauren Gillott
Author: Andrew Joyce-Gibbons

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Education


Computing > Programming
Education > Secondary Education

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