courses are typically disconnected
from the teaching theories and methods
pre-service teachers learn in other
education courses, focusing instead
on technology (such as Web 2.0 tools
19 Rather than focus on using
educational technology tools, educational-technology courses should be
revised to provide pre-service teachers
with opportunities to think computationally and experience computational
thinking as a generic set of skills and
competencies that do not necessarily
depend on computers or other educational technology.
cational-technology courses around
learning core computational thinking
concepts and capabilities is also an op-
portunity for computer science and edu-
cation faculty to work together. Taylor25
wrote that many early courses focus
on simple programming intended to
help students “learn something both
about how computers work and how
his or her own thinking works.” About
a decade ago, however, educational-
technology courses moved away from
this view and began to focus instead
on use of predesigned software tools
in the classroom. The recent burgeon-
ing movement around computational
thinking is an opportunity to reset
and redesign educational technology
courses, making them both more rel-
evant and more rigorous.
Given the importance of exposing
pre-service teachers to computational
thinking in the context of their discipline, educational technology courses
could be customized for groups of pre-service teachers based on their subject
areas and tied to their day-to-day classroom activities. The Technological
Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)
framework19 is a useful model for integrating computational thinking where
the related ideas are closely knit within
the subject matter and pedagogical
approaches pre-service teachers will
teach in their future classrooms.
TPACK extends Shulman’s idea24 of
pedagogical content knowledge by
including knowledge teachers need
to teach effectively with technology.
TPACK suggested teachers learn about
effective technology integration within
the context of subject matter and
pedagogy; similarly, teachers need
to develop computational thinking
knowledge within the context of
their content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge.
Methods courses in teacher-edu-
cation programs also provide an op-
portunity to help pre-service teachers
incorporate computational thinking in
the context of their future subject areas.
Methods courses enable them to acquire
new ways to think about teaching and
learning in one particular subject area
and provide opportunities for “develop-
ing pedagogical ways of doing, acting,
and being as a teacher.”
1 A methods
course weaves “together knowledge
about subject matter with knowledge
about children and how they learn,
about the teacher’s role, and about
classroom life and its role in student
1 Within this context, a
methods course could also be a place
where pre-service teachers explore
computational thinking ideas within
the context of their specific subject-
ing the quickest way for two friends to
buy movie tickets when three lines are
available; see the Computational Think-
ing Modules at http://cs4edu.cs.purdue.
edu/comp_think for other examples of
how computational thinking constructs
were highlighted for pre-service teach-
ers. However, the study by Yadav et al.
was conducted in a general teacher-
education course for pre-service teach-
ers from all content areas, next steps
should involve embedding computa-
tional thinking concepts into courses
for teachers of specific subject areas.
Given the strict sequence of courses
for teacher education students, teacher educators need to expose pre-service
teachers to computational thinking
ideas and competencies through existing coursework. One opportunity
that offers a natural fit is to introduce
computational thinking within existing educational-technology courses
in teacher-education programs. These
Recommendations for computational thinking in teacher preparation.
Curriculum. Develop a pre-service teacher education curriculum to prepare teachers to embed
computational thinking in their classrooms.
Core ideas. Introduce pre-service teachers to core ideas of computational thinking by redesigning
educational technology courses.
Methods courses. Use elementary and secondary methods courses to develop pre-service teachers’
understanding of computational thinking in the context of the discipline.
Collaboration. Computer science educators and teacher educators collaborate on developing
computational thinking curricula that goes beyond programming.
Teacher education. Use existing resources and curriculum standards to assimilate computational
thinking into pre-service teacher education.
Developing pre-service teacher computational thinking.
Methods courses to
thinking concepts to
various subject areas