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Characterizing Computational Thinking in High School Science

Abstract

This study identifies high school students' computational thinking practices in the context of science, technology, engineering, and math (CT-STEM practices) and the relationships between their practices-in-use. More specifically, we explore the CT-STEM practices that emerged as a result of students' participation in a two-day biology lesson featuring the exploration of a computational model on predator-prey dynamics. Digitally recorded data were taken from seventy-six students across four classes of one teacher. By applying a grounded analysis to students' written responses to two different assessment items embedded within the lesson, we found four CT-STEM practices related to identifying a model's limitations and eight practices related to exploring the model. Applying a network analysis to responses coded for these practices, we found networks representing common patterns of practices-in-use. This work identifies the informal CT-STEM practices that students bring to their learning and models combinations of practices-in-use.

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