Understanding Challenges Faced by Undergraduate Non-Computing Students to Facilitate Computational Thinking

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipientJie Mein (JM) Goh, Management Information Systems

Project teamEric Ka Wei Wong, research assistant

Timeframe: September 2018 to November 2019

Funding: $6000

Course addressed: BUS462 – Business Analytics

Final report: View JM Goh's final report >>

Description: From my observations of students working with a workflow based software to create programs during class, I notice that they tend to focus on the snapshot of the final workflow provided in the handouts, blindly reproducing the exact workflow, very often not forming their own understanding of the model. The problem with this approach is that they completely miss the opportunity to develop computational thinking skills.

As such, I would like to propose a two-phased TLDG project comprising of (i) proposing an intervention for facilitating computational thinking and (ii) evaluating the effectiveness of this intervention in terms of enhancing students’ learning outcomes, their ability to solve complex problems and their confidence in learning a new programming language or software independently.

Questions addressed:

  • Do students feel confident about solving a complex problem and dealing with new and ambiguous problems using the software?
  • Do students apply the software to other problems and motivated to learn new modules after the course?
  • Are students motivated to learn new software or programming languages after the course and intervention?  
  • To what extent are students familiar with computational thinking?
  • Does the intervention lead to better understanding of the algorithms and concepts?

Knowledge sharing: Findings have been discussed informally and will be shared with colleagues at Beedie School of Business.

Keywords: computational thinking, workflow software, analytical skills, problem solving skills