The goal of this initiative is to build a test to gauge computational thinking skills in a valid and reliable fashion. We are building, testing and validating a test that can be taken by anyone regardless of their previous knowledge or expertise in computer science.
This initiative builds a new assessment tool to measure computational thinking (CT) among science and engineering students.
Why is this needed?
First, the pervasiveness of digital tools and the use of computational methods is essential in contemporary sciences and engineering, which turns CT into a vital set of skills for current scientists and engineers. Thus, CT becomes a pillar of scientific and engineering education alongside other foundations traditionally considered as mathematics and physics.
Second, in accordance with the current relevance assigned to CT, EPFL has adopted CT as a subject for first-year students in an attempt to promote a transferable base in solving problems computationally. EPFL is offering an introductory course on CT and it intends to further implement courses for all degree programs, from Bachelor’s to Masters’ through to PhD. Therefore, we seek to advance our evidence-based understanding of how to best teach and learn CT such that teaching practice can be informed. Measuring learners’ CT in a reliable and valid fashion is necessary as it will help to identify effective methods.
Third, the tools built up to date to evaluate CT skills are, to the best of our knowledge, not sufficient for our intended use: they are scarce, have multiple shortcomings for evaluating CT skills in higher education, and are not validated for populations of engineering and science students.