Coding in Kindergarten: Researchers Study Early Computational Thinking

While attending a National Science Foundation (NSF) conference in Washington, D.C., Utah State University professors Jessica Shumway and Jody Clarke-Midura met with Congressman Rob Bishop, Representative of the 1st District in Utah, and his education legislative assistant, Paul Johnson, to share information about NSF’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Computer Science program as well as their own research.

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Together with Victor Lee, Shumway and Clarke-Midura, from Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, are currently studying early computational thinking in young children. Their research focuses on coding toys, which allow children to “program” simple sequences of lights, sounds or actions and are becoming more accessible. Research is ongoing to determine how effectively these toys can enhance problem-solving skills and help foster early computational thinking.

By studying the way kindergartners think and reason, Lee, Shumway and Clarke-Midura intend to develop better methods of evaluating the effectiveness of such toys. Once the results are measurable, educators will be able to make more informed decisions about the toys they use in early childhood settings.

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