Due to the growing number of early coding education programs designed for young children, there is increasing research interest in whether acquiring computational thinking (CT) can be transferred to other key developmental outcomes. A recent study by Yang and colleagues examined the link between computational thinking to sequencing ability and self-regulation in kindergarten students.
Computational thinking was defined by researchers as the foundational concept needed to solve problems algorithmically, with solutions that can be reused in various contexts. Algorithmic thinking involves step-by-step operations that guide one towards achieving a goal. Based on the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of cognitive abilities, the researchers hypothesized that CT would be related to both sequencing ability and self-regulation.
Sequential ability, which entails identifying a series of steps to complete a task, was assessed by Picture Sequencing Task. Self-regulation comprising working memory, mental flexibility, and inhibitory control was measured by the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task. CT was measured by the computerized version TechCheck, which focused on six domains of CT for young children, namely algorithms, modularity, control structures, representation, hardware/software, and debugging. A random sample of 101 children (boys = 49, mean age = 5.25 years) from one public kindergarten in Beijing, China, participated in the study. After controlling children’s age, gender and family SES, results of regression indicated that CT was positively linked to sequencing ability (β = +0.27) and self-regulation (β = +0.47).
Utilizing direct measures of cognitive abilities, this cross-sectional study provided preliminary evidence supporting an association between CT and other intellectual abilities in early childhood. Further research, such as longitudinal studies and investigations involving other learning outcomes, is necessary to explore the role of CT in young children’s cognitive development.
Source (Open Access): Yang, W., Gao, H., Jiang, Y., & Li, H. (2023). Beyond computing: Computational thinking is associated with sequencing ability and self-regulation among Chinese young children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 64, 324–330. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2023.04.006