Digital Competence & Computational Thinking for Preschool Pre-service Teachers
From Lab to Practice
Keywords:Computational thinking, systems thinking, digital competence, pre-service teacher education
Digital competence is a skill associated with the 21-century abilities essential to contribute to today’s and tomorrow’s digital and technical environments. Computational Thinking (CT), which is a thought process for problem-solving, is one of the emerging trends that makes up digital competence. In our explorative study, we have used educational robotics with four pre-service teachers during their four-weeks placement at different preschools. We applied three distinct and complementary approaches to design and conduct this study: Systems Thinking (ST); Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge; and Computing Pedagogy. Our findings are categorized in two main perspectives: pre-service teachers and children. In the pre-service teachers' perspective, the participants indicated that their educational program lacks specific content and activities related to digital competence, CT, and programming. Despite the initial pre-service teachers’ thoughts on improvement of children's CT concepts, the findings show that CT practices such as collaboration and trial and error were developed. From the children’s perspective, the empirical findings illustrate that digital competence and CT development vary depending on the age of the children; whereas logical thinking and pattern recognition are skills that were present along the whole age range of children (ages 2-6), other CT skills like algorithmic thinking were developed among older children only (aged 5-6). We learned that an ST approach can be helpful, as multiple factors are involved in the practice. It reveals the underlying features of the situation that emerge when components of the system interact with each other.
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