A Learning Path in Support of Computational Thinking in the Last Years of Primary School

  • Laura FreinaEmail author
  • Rosa Bottino
  • Lucia Ferlino
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11385)


A learning path supporting the development of Computational Thinking skills in students of the last years of Primary School was defined and tested in a case study involving a grade 5 class and their teacher for the whole school year. The project aimed at involving all the students regardless of their personal interest, as a standard school activity. The case study proved to be successful with respect to students’ interest and their ability to reach the main project’s objectives. Their skills increased along the project and students demonstrated to be on the right path to develop a complete and autonomous approach to Computational Thinking. Nevertheless, a longer time span would be needed to for students to master deeply the new concepts and tools. Sometimes abstraction can be difficult and concrete activities are needed to introduce new ideas. Furthermore, students showed little autonomy and a limited use of the social aspects of the chosen programming environment. Devoting a longer time to the learning path would help fostering these skills. Finally, a close integration of the learning path with the school curriculum is envisaged.


Computational thinking Game making Coding Primary education 


  1. 1.
    Wing, J.M.: Computational thinking. Commun. ACM 49(3), 33–35 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wing, J.: Research Notebook: Computational Thinking - What and Why? The Link. Carneige Mellon, Pittsburgh (2011)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    PNSD: Piano Nazionale Scuola Digitale. Accessed 22 June 2018
  4. 4.
    Bocconi, S., Chioccariello, A., Dettori, G., Ferrari, A., Engelhardt, K.: Developing computational thinking in compulsory education – Implications for policy and practice; EUR 28295 EN (2016).
  5. 5.
    Bocconi, S., Chioccariello, A., Earp, J.: The Nordic approach to introducing Computational Thinking and programming in compulsory education. Report prepared for the Nordic@BETT2018 Steering Group (2018).
  6. 6.
    Román-González, M., Pérez-González, J.C., Jiménez-Fernández, C.: Which cognitive abilities underlie computational thinking? criterion validity of the computational thinking test. Comput. Hum. Behav. 72, 678–691 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kafai, Y.B.: Connected gaming: an inclusive perspective for serious gaming. Int. J. Serious Games 4(3) (2017).
  8. 8.
    Earp, J., Dagnino, F.M., Caponetto, I.: An Italian Pilot Experience in Game Making for Learning. In: Zhang, J., Yang, J., Chang, M., Chang, T. (eds) ICT in Education in Global Context, pp. 171–199. Springer, Singapore (2016). Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kafai, Y.B.: Playing and making games for learning: instructionist and constructionist perspectives for game studies. Games Cult. 1(1), 36–40 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Zaharija, G., Mladenović, S., Boljat, I.: Introducing basic programming concepts to elementary school children. Procedia Soc. Behav. Sci. 106, 1576–1584 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bermingham, S., et al.: Approaches to collaborative game-making for fostering 21st century skills. In: European Conference on Games Based Learning, p. 45. Academic Conferences International Limited (2013)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bottino, R.M., Ott, M., Tavella, M.: The impact of mind game playing on children’s reasoning abilities: reflections from an experience. In: Conolly, T., Stansfield, M. (eds) Proceedings of 2nd European Conference on Game-Based learning, Barcelona, Spain, pp. 51–57. Academic Publishing Ltd, Reading (2008)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bottino, R.M., Ott, M.: Mind games, reasoning skills, and the primary school curriculum: hints from a field experiment. Learn. Media Technol. 31(4), 359–375 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Freina, L., Bottino, R., Ferlino, L., Tavella, M.: Training of spatial abilities with digital games: impact on mathematics performance of primary school students. In: Proceedings of the Game and Learning Alliance International Conference (GALA), Lisbon, Portugal, 5–7 December 2017Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Freina, L., Bottino, R.: Visuospatial abilities training with digital games in a primary school. Int. J. Serious Games 5(3), 23–35 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bottino, R.M., Chioccariello, A.: Computational thinking: videogames, educational robotics, and other powerful ideas to think with. KEYCIT - Key Competencies in Informatics and ICT, pp. 184–189. University of Potsdam, Potsdam (2014)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Resnick, M.: All I really need to know (about creative thinking) I learned (by studying how children learn) in kindergarten. In: Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI Conference on Creativity & Cognition, pp. 1–6. ACM (2007)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Resnick, M., et al.: Scratch: programming for all. Commun. ACM 52(11), 60–67 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Yin, R.K.: Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Sage, Thousands Oaks (2003)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Pea, R.D.: The social and technological dimensions of scaffolding and related theoretical concepts for learning, education, and human activity. J. Learn. Sci. 13(3), 423–451 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Educational TechnologiesItalian National Research CouncilGenoaItaly

Personalised recommendations