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Which Cognitive Abilities Underlie Computational Thinking? Criterion Validity of the Computational Thinking Test

Abstract

"Computational thinking (CT) is being located at the focus of educational innovation, as a set of problem-solving skills that must be acquired by the new generations of students to thrive in a digital world full of objects driven by software. However, there is still no consensus on a CT definition or how to measure it. In response, we attempt to address both issues from a psychometric approach. On the one hand, a Computational Thinking Test (CTt) is administered on a sample of 1,251 Spanish students from 5th to 10th grade, so its descriptive statistics and reliability are reported in this paper. On the second hand, the criterion validity of the CTt is studied with respect to other standardized psychological tests: the Primary Mental Abilities (PMA) battery, and the RP30 problem-solving test. Thus, it is intended to provide a new instrument for CT measurement and additionally give evidence of the nature of CT through its associations with key related psychological constructs. Results show statistically significant correlations at least moderately intense between CT and: spatial ability (r = 0.44), reasoning ability (r = 0.44), and problem-solving ability (r = 0.67). These results are consistent with recent theoretical proposals linking CT to some components of the Cattel-Horn-Carroll (CHC) model of intelligence, and corroborate the conceptualization of CT as a problem-solving ability."

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